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NOTABLE WOMEN 
IN HISTORY 



4y- WilliscJ. Abbot 



Hztt (^allege of Agriculture 

At C&orttell Hmwtattg 

Jtipua. ». i- 



Ktbrarjt 




Cornell University 
library 



The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924014014900 




CLEOPATRA 

Front (he painting hy (ruirfo Rent, P till l J alnce } Florence 



NOTABLE WOMEN 
IN HISTORY 



THE LIVES OF WOMEN WHO IN ALL AGES, ALL LANDS 

AND IN ALL WOMANLY OCCUPATIONS HAVE 

WON FAME AND PUT THEIR IMPRINT 

ON THE WORLD'S HISTORY 



BY 



WILLIS J. ABBOT 



AUTHOR OF *'THE BLUE JACKET*' SERIES, "THE BATTLEFIELDS" 
SERIES, "THE STORY OF OUR NAVY," "AMERICAN 
MERCHANT SHIPS AND SAILORS," ETC. 



3Uit0fraf?d 



PHILADELPHIA, PA. 

THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO. 
Publishers 



Copyright, 1913, by 
Willis J. Abbot 



Copyright, 1912, by 
Willis J. Abbot 



PREFACE 

OUT of the mouldering records of bygone cen- 
turies any competent student can gather 
ample evidence of the capability of woman 
to fill any place to which fate may summon 
her. Not that every woman can fill any place, more 
than every man could. But given the need and the 
individual will appear. Driven from point to point 
by the irresistible logic of the facts and by the develop- 
ment of a more intelligent public sentiment, the stub- 
born conservatives of to-day, who would deny to 
woman a share equal to that of man in the government 
of her nation, make their final forlorn stand on the 
plea that because women cannot fight the battles of 
their country with sword and gun they should have no 
share in guiding its political destinies. But men in 
plenty forbear to rush into the carnage of battle with- 
out being thereby debarred the pleasures of politics. 
The soldier and the statesman are types distinct. 
And even among soldiers women have figured 
gloriously. Isabella of Castile, Catherine II of Russia, 
were as truly generals as Wellington or Grant. Like 
the English and the American leader, they rode with 
their troops, shared the perils of battle and the dis- 
comforts of the bivouac, stimulating their soldiers by 
their presence, planning their campaigns and receiving 
the submission of their enemies. Shall we say that 

(i) 



PREFACE 



Lord Raglan or Florence Nightingale did the more to 
reanimate the drooping spirits of the English soldiers 
in the Crimea. And as a dashing leader, a beaux 
sabreur, Sheridan in no degree surpassed Joan of Arc. 
Her white armor and flowing tresses rallied her waver- 
ing troops as effectively as did that "terrible oath" 
which "Little Phil." is practically reputed to have 
ripped out on the twenty-mile ride to Winchester. 

These are extreme instances of course — extreme as 
to men as well as to women. But I think no one can 
read these sketches of seventy Women of History — it 
would not have been hard to collect three times as 
many — without appreciating some of the heights to 
which the feminine mind is capable of rising and the 
infinite variety of its flights. Let it be remembered 
that in all times and amidst all peoples of which we 
have knowledge the woman has been held the weaker 
vessel and the study of man has been to keep her weak. 
Not necessarily physically weak by any means. Wit- 
ness the lordly husband of the tropics lolling at ease 
while his various wives till the fields. But weak in all 
that makes for personal initiative and independence. 

Philosophers tell us that skirts were first put upon 
women to impede their movements so that they might 
not so readily run away from their masculine pro- 
prietors. But time brings its revenges. The skirt, 
once a badge of subjection, even its instrument, 
has become an emblem of majesty and authority. 
When it is desired to emphasize the eminence, the 
wisdom, the power of a man, be he cardinal, king or 
justice of our own Supreme Court, we clothe him in the 
flowing robes of womankind — scarlet, ermine or rus- 



PREFACE 



tling black silk, as the case may be. From these facts 
we may learn that "dress reform" is no necessary 
part of the programme of the emancipation of woman. 

In these pages will be found pen portraits of women 
of many sorts. It is a far cry from the frivolities of 
Nell Gwyn to the stateliness of Martha Washington, 
and the good qualities of each enter into the composite 
picture of the eternal woman. And if there seems to 
be much space given over to ladies who in our land 
would be received but coldly, if at all, in polite society, 
let us remember that many of them exerted a very pos- 
itive influence upon the history of their own times. 
The greatest ladies of the French salons, for example, 
would stand but a sorry chance of recognition in 
"literary circles" to-day, but they stimulated and 
advanced the national thought that led to the French 
Revolution and the overthrow of the ancient aristocracy 
upon the follies and vices of which they had fed. 
Catherine of Russia was an unspeakable libertine; 
Victoria a wife and a mother without a blemish. But 
as queens they were equally great, and if during the 
calm reign of the British sovereign the national red was 
far-flung over the map of the world, so, under the 
feverish rule of the Russian empress the paw of the 
bear fell heavily on many new lands and reached 
nearer to the Russian goal — the Bosporus — than ever 
before or since. 

Just now the upward and onward movement of 
womankind has taken a more coherent, a more dramatic 
form than ever in the past. The radicalism of yester- 
day is the conservatism of to-day. In nine American 
States women have the same political rights as men, 



PREFACE 



and vote probably with just about the same degree 
of patriotism and wisdom. In the professions they 
enjoy equal rights, and in certain advanced com- 
munities the woman judge has appeared, accompanied 
by her correlative the woman policeman. In certain 
fields of activity woman is displacing man, and the 
time may be approaching when the sterner sex, being 
wholly shorn of its unjust privileges, may have to 
do battle for the remnant of its just rights. 

This book, however, was not written to advance a 
cause or push a propaganda, though its author frankly 
expresses his complete sympathy with the women who 
fought and who are still striving for equality of oppor- 
tunity and equal rewards for like service for both the 
sexes. If lessons or texts are to be drawn from these 
sketches it is because history has put them there, and 
made them too plain to be overlooked. Without 
wholly acquiescing in the misleading maxim that 
there is no way of judging the future save by the past, 
it m#y be said confidently that the portions of woman's 
past comprehended in the last one hundred years is 
a clear record of bonds broken, barriers thrown down 
and confident advance toward the supreme goal of 
equality before the law. 

Willis J. Abbot. 

Washington, February 12, 1913. 



CONTENTS 



Paqhj 



A GROUP OF CLASSIC DAMES 

AGRIPPINA 15 

A Wicked Woman; a Devoted Mother 

ASPASIA 20 

The Inspiration of Pericles 

CORNELIA 25 

Mother of the Gracchi 

CLEOPATRA 30 

The World's Most Famous Beauty 

HYPATIA 35 

The Female Philosopher of Alexandria 

EMPRESS THEODORA 39 

The Great Empress of the East 

ZENOBIA 44 

The Empress of Palmyra 

MANY QUEENS AND SOME MARTYRS 

KATHERINE OF ARAGON 50 

Heroine of the Most Famous Divorce 

ANNE BOLEYN 59 

A Martyred Queen of Henry VIII 

MARY TUDOR 65 

"Bloody Mary," the Maker of Martyrs 
(5) 



6 CONTENTS 

Page 

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS 76 

A Victim of Her Own Intrigues 

LADY JANE GREY 87 

A Nine Days' Queen 

QUEEN ANNE 93 

Commonplace Queen of a Majestic Era 

^ QUEEN ELIZABETH 98 

"Good Queen Bess;" "The Virgin Queen" 

CATHERINE II OF RUSSIA 108 

The Semiramis of the North 

QUEEN CHRISTINA OF SWEDEN .... 118 
A Royal Wanderer in Europe 

J ISABELLA OF CASTILE 127 

The Financier of Columbus' Great Voyage 

MARIA THERESA OF AUSTRIA 137 

The True Founder of the Austrian Empire 

MARIE ANTOINETTE 146 

The Diamond Necklace and the Guillotine 

CHARLOTTE CORDAY 156 

The Avenger of Marie Antoinette 

EMPRESS JOSEPHINE 160 

The Discarded Wife of Emperor Napoleon 

HORTENSE BONAPARTE, QUEEN OF HOL- 
LAND 170 

A Milliner's Apprentice and a Queen 

A QUEEN LOUISE OF PRUSSIA 175 

A Nation's Immortal Idol 



CONTENTS 7 



Page 

CATHERINE DE MEDICI 180 

A Royal Dispenser of Poisons 

MADAME ROLAND 189 

Priestess of the Revolution 

QUEEN VICTORIA 197 

The Most Splendid Monarch of the Nine- 
teenth Century 

WOMEN OF WIT AND PLEASURE 

COUNTESS DU BARRY 207 

The Ruler of Louis XV 
COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON 212 

An English Saloniste 
BARBARA, DUCHESS OF CLEVELAND . . 217 

A Type of the Vampire 
MADAME DU DEFFAND 222 

The Blind Ruler of a Famous Salon 
NINON DE L'ENCLOS 227 

A Typical Parisian Parasite 
MADAME RECAMIER ... 232 

The Beauty of the French Salons 
MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 238 

The Most Splendid Adventuress 
MADAME DE MAINTENON • • 243 

The Wife of a Hunchback and of a King 
MADAME DE STAEL 248 

The Wit of the French Salons 
SARAH JENNINGS, THE DUCHESS OF 

MARLBOROUGH 253 

"The Viceroy over Queen Anne" 



8 CONTENTS 

Page 

MLLE: DE LA VALLIERE 258 

Heroine of a Royal Romance 
THEODOSIA BURR 263 

Whose Fate is an Unsolved Mystery 

PRIESTESSES OF WOMAN'S CAUSE 

SUSAN B. ANTHONY 268 

A Life-long Champion of Woman's Rights 
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON 274 

A Wife, Mother and Eminent Suffragist 
LUCY STONE 279 

A Champion of Liberty for Slaves and 
for Women 
JULIA WARD HOWE 284 

Author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic 
FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE 289 

The English Soldier's Angel of Mercy 
CLARA BARTON 294 

The American Florence Nightingale 
FRANCES E. WILLARD 299 

The Effective Foe of Intemperance 
ANNE HUTCHINSON 303 

An Early Defender of Free Speech 
LUCRETIA MOTT 308 

A Quaker Preacher of Freedom's Truths 
MARY BAKER EDDY 313 

The Founder of a New Faith 
HARRIET MARTINEAU 318 

The Writer of Political Romance 



CONTENTS 



Page 

SOME WOMEN OF THE FOOTLIGHTS 

CHARLOTTE CUSHMAN 323 

America's Most Famous Tragedienne 

NELL GWYN 328 

"Pretty Nelly," the Orange Girl 

JENNY LIND 332 

"The Swedish Nightingale" 

MADAME RISTORI 337 

" The Columbus of Italian Dramatic Art" 

MRS. SIDDONS 342 

"The Tragic Muse" 

"PEG" WOFFINGTON 347 

"Queen of all Hearts" 

SARAH BERNHARDT 352 

A Stage Idol for Fifty Years 

ADELINA PATTI 357 

The Queen of Song 

WOMEN IN ARTS AND LETTERS 

LOUISA MAY ALCOTT 362 

The "Jo" of "Little Women" 

JANE AUSTEN 367 

A Brilliant Chronicler of the Commonplace 

ROSA BONHEUR 372 

The Friend and Painter of Animals 

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING ... 377 
A Poet and a Poet's Bride 



10 CONTENTS 



Page 

MARY ANN EVANS 382 

"George Eliot," England's Most Famous 
Woman Novelist 

MARGARET FULLER 387 

An Inspired Conversationalist 

CHARLOTTE BRONTE 392 

The Creator of "Jane Eyre" 

HARRIET BEECHER STOWE ... 397 

The Little Woman who Caused a Big War 

MADAME DUDEVANT 402 

The "George Sand" of French Fiction 

MADAME DE LA RAMEE ... .407 

The "Ouida" Beloved of School Girls 

HELEN HUNT JACKSON 411 

The Indian's Devoted Friend 

MARY LAMB 416 

The Gentle Humorist's Adoring Sister 

FRANCES TROLLOPE . . . .421 

Whose Book on America Enraged a Nation 

WOMEN WHO STAND ALONE 

MARTHA WASHINGTON 426 

The Original "First Lady of the Land" 

DOLLY MADISON 434 

The White House Heroine of 1812 

JOAN OF ARC 439 

Seer, Soldier, Leader of Men, Martyr 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Cleopatra Frontispiece 

From the painting by Guido Reni, Pitti 

Palace Florence 

» ♦ 

Page 

Cornelia . 25 

From the painting by J. Champagne 

Anne Boleyn . .... .... 59 

National Portrait Gallery. Painter unknown 

Isabella of Castile . . 127 

From an engraving by Charles Staal 

Marie Antoinette on the Way to the Guil- 
lotine 146 

From the painting by F. Flameng 

Charlotte Corday 156 

From the painting by Fleury 

Empress Josephine 160 

Painter unknown 

Madame Roland 189 

Painter unknown 

Queen Victoria 197 

Madame du Barry 207 

From the painting by Drouais 

Duchess of Cleveland 217 

From the painting by Sir Peter Lely, Hampton 
Court 

(11) 



12 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAOB 

Madame Recamier 232 

From the painting by David, the Louvre 

Madame de Pompadour 238 

From the painting by Nattier, MusSe de Saint- 
Omer 

Madame de Stael 248 

From the painting by F. Gerard 

Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough 253 

From the painting by Godfrey Kneller 

Louise de la Valliere 258 

From the painting by Mignard, Uffizi Gal- 
leries, Florence 

Susan B. Anthony 268 

Elizabeth Cady Stanton 274 

Julia Ward Howe 284 

Lucretia Mott 308 

Harriet Martineau 318 

Charlotte Cushman 323 

From the painting by Chapvel 

Nell Gwyn 328 

From the painting by Sir Peter Lely, Na- 
tional Portrait Gallery 

Mrs. Siddons 342 

From the painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds 

Peg Woffington 347 

From the painting by James Latham 

Adelina Patti 357 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 13 

Page 

Rosa Bonheur 372 

From the painting by Dubufe 

George Eliot 382 

From the painting by Frederick Burton, Nar 
iional Portrait Gallery 

Harriet Beecher Stowe 397 

George Sand 402 

From the drawing by L. Calamatta 

Martha Washington 426 

From the engraving by Jno. Woolaston 

Joan of Arc 439 

From the painting by Ingres 



AGRIPPINA 

(A. D. 16-59) 
A WICKED WOMAN; A DEVOTED MOTHER 

* GRIPPINA, Empress of Rome, is perhaps best 
Z-k known as the mother of Nero, the woman 
JL -k. w ho thrust that detestable tyrant upon the 
people of Rome, and who later suffered death 
at the hands of his hired assassins. "Strike me 
through the body that bore that monster Nero," she 
said, when she recognized the murderers as his emis- 
saries. 

The woman who died thus miserably in her forty- 
third year was endowed by fortune and by nature 
with every possible attribute which should bring suc- 
cess and enduring fame. She was the daughter of 
Germanicus, one of the really great Romans; was 
married to Claudius, who, if not great, was at least 
a harmless ruler; and gave birth to Nero, whose fid- 
dling over burning Rome later historians deny, but 
whose cruelty and debauchery no whitewash can blot 
out from history. Nature gave her surpassing beauty, 
but denied her any sense of chastity. Her violations 
of that virtue were notorious, and assumed forms 
which in our days are heard of only in the most debased 
and vicious families. Rome at that time had a strin- 
gent statute against violations of the moral law— that 

' ,'(15)"" 



16 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

is, in the case of women — but qualified it if such lapses 
were shown to have been due to an ambition to advance 
the interests of the state. 

Of this qualification Agrippina took the fullest 
advantage, and it served to excuse her in the mind 
of the Roman populace when, after a riotous career 
as a girl and a marriage of which Nero was the fruit, 
shejraarried her uncle, the Emperor Claudius. For 
the rest Agrippina was majestic in carriage, of most 
distinguished manners, with a lively and enterprising 
intellect capable of undertaking great things. But 
as her beauty was bartered to the ends of lust and 
ambition, so her really regal mind was marred by the 
passions of avarice, jealousy, and revenge. She was 
capable of acts of the most hideous cruelty, and who- 
ever blocked the path to realization of her ambition 
suffered and disappeared. 

Of Agrippina's first marriage it is unnecessary to 
speak. It was soon terminated and its one contri- 
bution to history was the child Nero. Later, when 
Messalina, wife to Claudius, and an even worse woman 
than Agrippina, died, she set herself to win the widowed 
emperor. For her it was no question of affection. 
Claudius was her uncle, older by far than she, and 
attractive neither in person nor in intellect. But he 
was emperor, and Agrippina had a son whom she 
destined for the imperial purple. That Claudius 
should acquiesce was understandable. As daughter 
of Germanicus, Agrippina had a large following among 
the people of Rome and particularly with the all-power- 
ful Praetorian guard, for her father had been, above 
all things, a soldier./ 



AGRIPPINA 17 



Claudius had two children — a son, Britannicus, and 
a daughter, Octavia. The daughter was easily dis- 
posed of by being betrothed to Nero, then aged twelve 
and undergoing his education at the hands of the 
famous philosopher, Seneca. Claudius further was 
persuaded to adopt Agrippina's young hopeful. After 
that matters went smoothly and the task of thrusting 
Britannicus into the background seemed for a time 
easy. But it chanced that Claudius belatedly saw 
through Agrippina's design to have her son, rather 
than his, succeed to his imperial dignities, and, in his 
puerile fashion, he protested. According to the pleas- 
ant marital customs of the day there was nothing for 
Agrippina to do but to get rid of so inconvenient a 
husband. The necessity was annoying, of course, and 
the event was made the more embarrassing by the 
fact that the dish of mushrooms — his favorite viand — 
which she had prepared for him proved to be a little 
too delicately poisoned. It incommoded him sorely, 
but gave no promise of fatal results. A skilful phy- 
sician, who was called in to relieve his distress, thrust 
a feather down the patient's throat to induce vomiting. 
As the feather had first been dipped in poison, appar- 
ently something like prussic acid, it relieved all his 
pains forever. 

Agrippina then moved with shrewdness and deter- 
mination. The death of Claudius was concealed until 
the Praetorian guard could be sounded as to their 
willingness to receive Nero as emperor. This was 
made easy by the fact that Britannicus — the only 
other possibility — was only about twelve years old 
and his proclamation as commander of the Roman 



18 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

armies would have been obviously absurd. So all went 
smoothly and Agrippina soon saw all her plottings and 
poisonings rewarded by the spectacle of her son, then 
but sixteen years old, on the imperial throne of Rome. 

Very soon she discovered that like the fabled Frank- 
enstein she had created a monster for her own undoing. 
Though he had fulfilled the conditions of his betrothal 
and married his stepsister, Octavia, Nero speedily 
tired of her and became infatuated with Acte, a freed 
woman of oriental beauty. Thereupon his mother 
began to harass him. With her multitudinous faults 
she had a certain high-mindedness and a lofty ambi- 
tion for her son. She wanted him to be a real emperor, 
a Caesar or a Britannicus, not a mere libertine rioting 
over the wine cup. Her insistence annoyed Nero. 

The simplest way, he thought, to rid himself of this 
annoyance was to assassinate the mother who bore 
him and who had committed almost every sin on the 
calendar to make him emperor. But how? Agrip- 
pina was regarded almost with reverence by the Ro- 
mans, for she was the daughter of a man who would 
have been emperor but for his premature death, and 
the sister, the wife, and the mother of emperors. 
Nero's advisers cogitated long on this interesting 
problem. A picturesque solution was offered by one 
Anicetus, commander of the Roman fleet. The plan 
was for Nero to invite his mother to visit him at 
Baiae on the Bay of Naples, where he and his court 
were summering. After treating her with due filial 
respect and affection he was to furnish a vessel to 
return her to her home. This vessel was cunningly 
constructed so that one side of the hull could be thrown 



AGRIPPINA 19 



open by the touch of a lever and it would sink before 
aid could be summoned. 

In the beginning the plot promised well, Agrippina 
found Nero a solicitous host and an affectionate and 
repentant son. Her visit ended, she stood by the 
waterside awaiting the splendid vessel which, with 
filial devotion, the emperor had constructed for her 
special use. All her talk to her ladies in waiting was 
of the new spirit her son showed and her hopes of his 
future development. An hour or two later the cry 
was raised that the ship was sinking. Did the wise 
old plotter of the Roman court suspect treachery? 
Who can tell? At any rate she slipped quietly over- 
board and swam for safety, while one of her waiting 
maids on the ship, being mistaken for her, was stunned 
and thrown into the water to drown. Agrippina 
meanwhile swam until picked up by a passing boat, 
which conveyed her safely home. Thence she sent, 
either innocently or with malignant irony, a courier to 
Nero informing him of her happy escape and inviting 
his rejoicings. 

Nero was mad with rage and with apprehension. 
How much his mother knew, he could only guess. 
If she really knew of his plot she could raise a 
revolt in Rome that would put his throne in danger. 
To openly assassinate her was perilous — to let her 
live was to invite disaster. Accordingly he sent a 
body of mercenaries to her home who did her to death 
with swords. Her last words are quoted in the first 
paragraph of this chapter — surely the most damning 
heritage that a wicked but devoted mother could 
leave to a more wicked and wholly thankless son. 



ASPASIA 

(Fifth Century B. C.) 
THE INSPIRATION OF PERICLES 

THE distinguished Italian historian Ferrero 
points out repeatedly the superiority of the 
condition of the women of Rome to that of 
those of Athens. Under the Roman law, 
he says, during the period immediately before and after 
the Christian era, married women owned and con- 
trolled their own property, except the dowry which 
was given the husband on the wedding day. In many 
respects their economic condition was better than that 
of women in certain of our states to-day. More than 
that, their social status was equal to that of men. 
They entertained their husbands' friends, were present 
at social gatherings, and bore a large part in the 
political life of the day. 

In Athens, on the contrary, the old Asiatic idea of 
the sequestration of women was maintained. The 
"gynaeceum," in which the wife and feminine relatives 
of the master of the house resided, was in essence 
the Turkish harem, with its rigors somewhat mod- 
erated, but its seclusion almost as complete. Mar- 
ried women had little share in the social life of the 
day, and none in political affairs. They neither met 
the friends of their husbands nor had any part in the 

(20) 



ASPASIA 21 



intellectual life of the circles in which their lords and 
masters moved. 

As a result women of a class, in our days without 
the social pale, wielded a large influence in Athens. 
Free from the domestic and intellectual bondage 
which dwarfed their respectable married sisters, they 
made of their houses the meeting places for the most 
prominent men in political, intellectual, and artistic 
circles. 

Among women of this class the foremost in her 
time and the greatest in history was Aspasia, a beauti- 
ful Ionian, the date of whose birth is unknown, but 
who flourished in the fifth century B. C. How and 
why she came to Athens is lost in the dim mists of 
the past. Presumably she came there as an adven- 
turess, seeking fortune which she found when by her 
beauty, which all contemporary writers declare sur- 
passing, her manners and her brilliancy she won the 
heart of Pericles — the greatest ruler Athens ever knew. 

The age of Pericles is famous in all history as the 
period when Athens reached the zenith of its glory 
in art, in philosophy, and in military prowess. It 
was then that Phidias flourished and crowned the 
Acropolis with his masterpieces. Euripides and 
Sophocles were writing dramas which the intellectual 
world still studies; Socrates and Plato were preaching 
the philosophy which lies at the bottom of modern 
ethics; Democritus and Anaxagoras were evolving 
political systems which still influence the government 
of the world. Thucydides and Herodotus were writ- 
ing the histories which form the basis of modern 
knowledge of the ancient world, and Pindar was com- 



22 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

posing those odes which modern poets love to trans- 
late. For all of these the house of Aspasia was the 
rendezvous. 

How she came to meet Pericles is not recorded even 
in the somewhat vague traditions of the time when 
history was written on perishable wax tablets. But 
that she was to him all that a wife should be though 
denied the legal title, is certain. She bore him a son 
whom after the death of his two legitimate children 
he adopted and to whom he gave his own name. For 
his failure to marry her there were two very sufficient 
reasons. In the early days of their acquaintance he 
was a married man, though afterward estranged from 
his wife. But wholly insurmountable was the law 
which prohibited the marriage of a noble Athenian 
to a foreigner. Thus balked in their desire to marry, 
Pericles and Aspasia formed a union which proved 
as enduring as life, and which was truly a wedding of 
minds. Walter Savage Landor well ascribes their 
fault, if fault it were, to the narrowness of their time. 

There throned, immortal by his side, 
A woman sits with eyes sublime, 
Aspasia — all his spirit's bride; 
But, if their solemn love were crime 
Pity the beauty and the sage, 
Their crime was in that darkened age. 

The ascendency of Aspasia over the mind of Pericles 
was destined to prove dangerous, almost fatal to them 
both. The people of Athens disliked the spectacle of 
their ruler parted from his lawful wife and responsive 
to the influence of a foreign-born woman. Probably 
the lawful wives of Athens helped to stimulate this 



ASPASIA 23 



discontent, for the prosperity of Aspasia and her class 
could hardly fail to awaken the jealousy of these 
sequestered ladies. Moreover, the frequenters of 
Aspasia's home were looked upon with distrust by the 
Athenians. Socrates, Democritus, and Anaxagoras 
were philosophers not in touch with the spirit of their 
day. They examined the system of government and 
criticized its faults. They expressed doubts as to the 
existence of the whole army of gods recognized in pagan 
theology, and questioned the existence of Jupiter, 
Minerva, and Venus. Phidias, though a sculptor 
skilled in carving statues of the gods, confessed to 
skepticism concerning them. In short, the salon of 
Aspasia was a nest of what we now call anarchists, 
and the people of Athens set about destroying them 
all. 

Against Aspasia they charged that she influenced 
Pericles for the injury of the state and that she in- 
structed him in unspeakable and indescribable vices. 
Incapable of proof, these charges were almost equally 
impossible to disprove. By constant reiteration in 
public places they came to be accepted as facts. When 
the matter came to a serious hearing it required all the 
oratorical genius of Pericles, all the influence he pos- 
sessed and all the fierce determination inspired by the 
love he felt for the woman who was in all truth his 
wife, to save her from Athenian jealousy. "His tears 
more than his eloquence swayed the judges," said a 
contemporary writer. 

But though able to save Aspasia by herculean efforts, 
Pericles was unable to protect his friends. The bril- 
liant circle which gathered about the Aspasian board 



24 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

was broken up in dread of Athenian wrath. Phidias 
and Anaxagoras were swept away before the storm — 
one to lifelong exile, the other to prison and untimely 
death. Not long after, Socrates drank the deadly 
hemlock. The most intellectual coterie of classic 
days was demolished by an unreasoning populace. 

The name of almost every man who joined in the 
discussions at Aspasia's house is written large in his- 
tory; the name of none of their enemies is remembered. 

After this disaster Aspasia swiftly passed into 
obscurity. The plague fell upon Athens and carried 
away Pericles and his two children by his first wife. 
Some time thereafter Aspasia married once more, and 
gradually faded from the world's stage. The time and 
place of her death, as of her birth, are lost in history, 
but after nearly 2,500 years her name shines bright 
upon its pages, and though no writing, however frag- 
mentary, bearing her name exists, her fame is secure. 



-■ ■■*■■ '•*:•. 7 ?-.*■:-.,;; 



''&*:*. ^%h-"-H 




CORNELIA 

From tft< putt/liny hij J. < 'ktnu ptKjnt' 



CORNELIA 

(Second Century B. C.) 
MOTHER OF THE GRACCHI 

SHORTLY before the Roman mob, urged on by 
the plutocrats in the Roman senate, beat to 
death the two brothers known as the Gracchi, 
the elder of these, Tiberius Gracchus, threw 
down the gauntlet to privilege thus: 

"The wild beasts of Italy have their caves into 
which to retire, but the men who spill their blood in 
her cause have nothing left but air and light. With- 
out houses, without any settled habitation, they wan- 
der from place to place with their wives and children, 
and their generals do but mock them when at the 
heads of their armies they expect these men to fight 
for their sepulchres and domestic gods; for among 
such a number there is perhaps not a Roman who 
has an altar that belonged to his ancestors, or a 
sepulchre in which their ashes rest. The private 
soldiers fight and die to advance the wealth and 
luxury of the great, and they are called masters of the 
world, while they have not a foot of land in their 
possession." 

Thus far back in the history of the world the evil 
of the monopoly of land impressed itself upon great 
minds. Two hundred years before Christ the Gracchi 

(25) 



26 WOMEN OF HISTORY. 

saw it, protested and were murdered by hirelings of 
the monopolists. Henry George in our own day saw 
it, too, and died fighting it. 

Cornelia, who was proud to be known as "the 
Mother of the Gracchi," was above all things a noble 
Roman matron. Her nature would hardly appeal to 
our more modern women, who hold, and rightly, that 
there is something more for womankind than mere 
household devotion. All she stood for, all that she 
did, was to educate her two sons to become great 
figures in Rome. Had she lived a century or so earlier 
she would have made of them great soldiers. As it 
was she bred them to the higher profession of state- 
craft. It is quite true that for the moment they 
failed, but few figures in Roman history have done 
more for real democracy than the Gracchi, and it was 
their mother who made them all they were. 

Cornelia was born in the second century B. C. — 
the year is not known precisely. She was the daughter 
of Scipio Africanus, whose latter name carried with it 
the glory of his triumph over Hannibal in the second 
Carthaginian war. Her husband, Tiberius Gracchus, 
sprang from the plebeian class; she herself was of the 
patrician order. Perhaps it was because of this mixed 
parentage that the two sons — the Gracchi, as they 
came to be known in history — had the manners of the 
patricians, while sympathizing in all affairs with the 
downtrodden plebeians. Cornelia's husband died in 
the midst of their most happy marital life. Even 
so, there had been born to them thirteen children, of 
whom three only survived — the two boys, Caius and 
Tiberius, and one girl. 



CORNELIA 27 



All mothers expect their sons to be great figures 
in whatever walk of life they may tread. Of the 
baker's boy quite as much is expected in his line as 
of the crown prince. Cornelia believed from the 
very outset that her two sons were destined to the 
highest^place in the Roman Empire. So complete 
was her conviction that she declared that in history 
she would be known as "The Mother of the Gracchi " 
rather than as the daughter of Scipio Africanus. Her 
belief was well founded, and in the excavations of the 
Roman Forum, nearly 2,000 years after her death, 
there was found a battered statue of her, bearing the 
very title she most craved — "Cornelia Mater Grac- 
chiorum." 

Perhaps in some other age she might have been 
more than a mother — if more than that there can be. 
But, on the other hand, it is quite possible that the 
woman who so shaped the characters of her two sons 
that they were willing to brave all the power of pa- 
trician Rome in support of the rights of the plebeians 
was surely herself a power. She stood manfully back 
of her sons, who fought in the senate and in the forum 
to regain for the people part of the land that had been 
alienated from them. And when the Roman senate 
inflicted upon the two popular champions that final 
and complete punishment which in those days every 
man who stood for the people had to brave — nowadays 
he braves business disaster, but not swift death — she 
accepted the tidings of their assassination without a 
murmur. 

"Can the mother of the Gracchi need consolation?" 
she asked. And indeed froip the viewpoint of a Roman 



28 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

matron and mother she was right. The name of the 
Gracchi has passed into history. Who can name the 
cheap politicians who accomplished their assassination? 

It was while the two lads were still in their early 
boyhood that Cornelia made to the purse-proud Roman 
matron, boasting of her gems, that retort which has 
passed into history and serves as the subject of one 
of the world's greatest paintings. Challenged to show 
her jewels in competition with those of her visitor, 
she deferred the exhibition tactfully until the two 
boys with their tutor came in. "These are my jewels," 
she then said, with a pride justified by their later 
glory. 

Shortly after the death of her husband Cornelia 
was sought in marriage by Ptolemy, King of Egypt, 
then at the zenith of his power. Flattering as the 
offer may have been, it was declined by the widow 
of Tiberius,^the plebeian, and her sons escaped being 
oriental princes. 

Over the early education of her boys Cornelia her- 
self presided, founding them in Greek, philosophy, 
and politics. She had been highly educated by her 
father, the great Scipio, and her home was the resort 
of the men of light and learning in Rome until the 
double calamity drove her into self-chosen exile. 
She then took a villa at Misenum to live out the re- 
mainder of the days of her bereavement. To a great 
extent her 'intellectual court followed her thither, and 
these faithful friends have recorded their amazement 
at her composure and the quiet spirit of mingled 
resignation and pride with which she spoke of the 
lifework of her sons and of their untimely death. No 



CORNELIA 29 



tears bedimmed her eyes as she recounted their noble 
deeds, nor did her voice give any indication of sorrow 
or regret. In a way she seemed to have detached 
herself from them — to be less the mother than an 
inspired historian chronicling the acts of great figures 
too remote and too lofty to awaken weak emotions. 
Indeed, her attitude was so Spartan that some even 
thought her mind might have been unhinged by age 
or her sensibilities wrecked by misfortune. But the 
biographer of the Gracchi says: "In this they (such 
observers) proved their utter lack of sensibility. They 
did not know the signs of that nobility of soul which 
is sometimes given by birth and is always perfected 
by culture, or the reasonable spirit of endurance which 
mental and moral excellence supply." 

More than twenty-one centuries have passed since 
Cornelia gave her jewels to the Roman people, but 
her fame undimmed by time still endures to be an 
inspiration to the mothers of our age. 



CLEOPATRA 

(B. C. 69-30) 



THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS BEAUTY 



A FRENCH philosopher, moralizing on the great 
influence of little matters, remarked that a 
fraction of an inch more on the end of Cleo- 
patra's nose would have changed the history 
of Rome and Egypt. As it was, her unblemished 
beauty, her wit, and her audacity disarmed two of 
the greatest generals Rome ever sent into Egypt. 
Not until a third remained oblivious to the charms 
she temptingly displayed to him did she abandon her 
effort to rule the world by beauty, and seek refuge 
in self-inflicted death. 

Cleopatra was joint heir to the throne of Egypt 
with her younger brother Ptolemy. In accordance 
with the monstrous custom of the Alexandrine dynasty 
she was expected not merely to divide regal authority 
with her brother, but to marry him as well. Against 
this she revolted — although whether it was against 
the marriage or the division of power is not very 
clear. At this time Julius Caesar, after overthrowing 
Pompey on the plains of Pharsalia, arrived with the 
mere remnant of an army at Alexandria. Here he 
found governmental chaos. The adherents of Ptol- 
emy and of Cleopatra were rioting daily in the streets. 

(30) 



CLEOPATRA 31 



In the name of the Roman senate, then all powerful, 
Caesar sought to compose the quarrel and to that end 
summoned both Ptolemy and Cleopatra before him. 

Cleopatra might have responded with a brilliant 
retinue, or sent distinguished advocates to represent 
her. Instead, with a single companion, Apollodorus, 
she embarked in a fragile skiff and made a tempest- 
uous voyage to Alexandria. Arrived there the ques- 
tion of how she should gain audience with Caesar 
became all important. That a queen should appear 
bedraggled from a sea voyage and accompanied by 
but one attendant was impossible. Cleopatra, whose 
dramatic instinct, no less than her personal charms, 
would be invaluable in the comic opera field to-day, 
solved the problem. Clad in raiment of which the 
least said the most descriptive, she lay upon a rich 
oriental rug and was wrapped up by the faithful 
Apollodorus into a neat bundle, which he thereupon 
shouldered and carried to the palace. Upon the plea 
of bringing to the Roman general a tribute from the 
absent queen of Egypt, he found prompt admission 
to the audience hall. There he laid his burden on the 
floor before Caesar, undid the fastenings, and from 
the richly colored convolutions of the oriental fabrics 
rose the delicate and ravishing form of the most 
beautiful woman of the eastern world, even as Venus 
rose all dripping from the sea. 

Caesar was then above fifty years of age. His life, 
though that of a soldier who really fought, had not 
been marked by any austerity. In a lax age his 
morals had been those of his fellows. But the sur- 
passing beauty of this Egyptian girl of twenty summers 



32 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

enthralled him on the moment. He was at once her 
slave, and the next morning proclaimed that she should 
share equally with Ptolemy the royal prerogatives. 
But Ptolemy shrewdly surmised that Cleopatra plus 
Caesar would hardly divide equally power with Ptol- 
emy alone. There followed plots, conspiracies, and a 
sputtering of war in which the military genius of Caesar 
and the discipline of his Roman legionaries overthrew 
the vastly superior forces of the Egyptians. 

Thereafter for a time Cleopatra ruled supreme — 
alike over Egypt and her lover. That Caesar would 
have married her had he not already possessed a living 
wife there is no doubt. But ugly rumors about the 
life of effeminate and voluptuous luxury which the 
great Julius was leading in Alexandria reached Rome, 
and his friends besought him to come home. He 
returned. Cleopatra presently followed him, hoping 
that some lucky chance in Rome might enable him 
to marry her. But the fates were unpropitious. 
Caesar fell before the daggers of Brutus and his fellow 
conspirators, and the Queen of Egypt and of Beauty 
was forced to flee again into her own land. 

For three years Cleopatra reigned with little trouble 
in Egypt, so secure were the foundations Caesar had 
laid. Then the disordered conditions in Rome began 
to affect her realm. Brutus and Cassius warred with 
Antony for supremacy, and met disaster and death 
at Philippi. Curiously enough Cleopatra, in her 
effort to be diplomatic, had shown friendship for 
Brutus who dealt to Caesar the last fatal stab. Now 
Antony was in power and sent a curt summons to her 
to come and answer the charges against her. Again 



CLEOPATRA 33 



the seemingly illimitable power of that surpassing 
beauty was brought into action. All the world knows 
how in a gilded barge, with sails of purple silk, the 
oars wielded by naked girls, the course directed by 
chosen beauties, she bore down to meet Mark An- 
tony's war galley. The queen herself reclined in a 
huge shell-shaped couch on the elevated quarter deck, 
and neither her garb nor her beauty was permitted to 
suffer by comparison with the crew of houris who 
propelled this ship of state of Venus on its way. An- 
tony sent her an invitation to dine with him upon his 
ship. "It is more fitting that your master should 
dine with me," she told the messenger. Antony came. 
To paraphrase Caesar's most famous despatch, "He 
came, he saw, she conquered." 

For Antony now were all the amorous dalliances 
which had kept Caesar in Alexandria when Rome 
needed him. For him the bacchanalian feasts, the 
dancing girls, all the luxurious dissipation which the 
voluptuous imagination of Cleopatra could devise and 
his own coarsely sensual nature relish. When every 
other device to stir jaded passions had been exhausted 
they fell to striving as to which could give the most 
costly entertainments. It was in the course of this 
contest that Cleopatra is said to have dissolved a 
pearl of great price in vinegar and drunk it. The 
story is hallowed by centuries of repetition, but is 
doubtful. Pearls dissolve but slowly in any acid, and 
vinegar is not a palatable beverage. 

However, the anecdote is characteristic of the stories 
that reached Rome, where the people began to clamor 
for Antony's overthrow. Octavius Caesar was sent 



34 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

to attack him, and after an uninterrupted succession 
of victories appeared before the walls of Alexandria, 
compelled the surrender of Cleopatra's fleet, and made 
the city his own. 

Cleopatra took refuge in a massive mausoleum which 
she had built some years before. Antony came thun- 
dering to its doors, firm in the belief that the surrender 
of her fleet meant that she had treacherously deserted 
him. Her guards, fearing that in his wrath he would 
do the queen an injury, told him that she had slain 
herself. Instantly his rage gave way before a great 
wave of love and contrition. Rushing madly to his 
own quarters he threw himself repeatedly on his 
sword, inflicting fatal wounds. The news being taken 
to Cleopatra she had her dying lover conveyed to her 
retreat, bound up his hurts and nursed him tenderly 
until he died. Sentimqntal tradition has it that she 
died with him, but the historical evidence seems to 
show that after his death she sought to win over 
Octavius with the same charms that had proved so 
effective with Caesar and with Antony. 

But Octavius was cold and ambitious. His desire 
was to save Cleopatra that she might walk in chains 
a captive behind his chariot, at the triumph which 
he knew Rome would decree him. But her determi- 
nation never to be displayed to the Roman populace 
as a slave was indomitable, and finally, persuading 
a serving woman to smuggle an asp into the tomb 
which served her as a refuge, she applied the venom- 
ous serpent to her breast and died while Octavius 
and his lictors were thundering at the gates in an 
effort to seize and to save her. 



HYPATIA 

(A. D. 380-415) 
THE FEMALE PHILOSOPHER OF ALEXANDRIA 

MOST of us to-day know of Hypatia through 
Charles Kingsley's stirring historical novel 
bearing her name. Indeed any one whom 
this brief sketch may interest could do no 
better than to secure the novel, which tells in striking 
and graphic phrase the story of the era in which the 
Christian church of the day refused to let this girl 
preach doctrines which are now commonplace, and 
finally connived at the crime of a mob of monks and 
priests who hacked her naked body to pieces with 
shells and bits of earthenware and finally burned its 
mutilated fragments on a pyre. 

It is doubtful whether many people to-day know 
just what it was that Hypatia preached that made 
her so hated by the church of that day. The his- 
torians will tell you that it was Neo-Platonism — a 
phrase that means much to the historians but little 
to the general public. Roughly speaking, it was 
much like our present preachments of ethical culture 
as against those of evangelical Christianity. 

We have our woman philosophers to-day, but unlike 
Hypatia they stand on a platform above all others 
and fear adulation more than they need apprehend 

C35) 



36 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

violence. , Jane Addams might have been a Hypatia 
in the days of the latter, but the philosophy of the 
American woman is essentially practical; that of the 
Greek wholly speculative. 

In these practical days we find difficulty in under- 
standing the zest for the most technical and imprac- 
tical sort of knowledge which existed during the early 
days when education was being disseminated among 
the people. Theon, the father of Hypatia, taught 
mathematics and astronomy in Alexandria. One can 
hardly imagine the gilded youth of to-day flocking 
to lectures on mathematics or astronomy, but in 
Alexandria they crowded to his school as in late years 
fashionable women have attended the lectures of the 
various Swamis — and perhaps for the same reason, 
namely, that the subject was a bit above their heads. 

Hypatia, too, lectured on mathematics and phi- 
losophy, but as she possessed singular beauty and 
charm the size of her classes was more easily accounted 
for. Nowadays her father would be called a pro- 
ponent of eugenics, for he set forth deliberately at his 
marriage to produce a perfect human being. Charts 
and theorems and formulas were used by this man 
to guide nature. Whether by luck or science he suc- 
ceeded. His daughter was facially beautiful; in figure 
admirably molded. Her height was five feet nine 
inches, and her weight one hundred and thirty-five 
pounds when she was twenty-one years of age. She 
was born in 380 A. D. and torn to pieces by the mob 
in 415 A. D. A scant thirty-five years measured her 
living aid to philosophy, but all ages since have treas- 
ured her memory or been affected by her influence. 



HYPATIA 37 



Just what bred the bitter antagonism of the Alex- 
andrine monks to Hypatia is now a source of mystery 
to all except the most erudite ecclesiastical historians. 
Her doctrine of Neo-Platonism is described as an 
effort to make Greek philosophy religious and Greek 
religion philosophical. That is a very good phrase, 
but as a matter of fact there is nothing in Greek 
philosophy which does not fit into the code of mod- 
ern Christianity, nor anything in Greek religion save 
the symbolism of the multitudinous gods and god- 
desses that does not equally harmonize. 

Nevertheless, the school of philosophy presided over 
by Hypatia was watched jealously by the monks of 
Alexandria, headed by Peter the Reader — a melo- 
dramatic type of the fanatic, whose character is finely 
outlined by Kingsley. This religious maniac charged 
Hypatia with luring from the orthodox faith many 
of the younger Christians. So it happened that one 
day in March, 415 A. D., she left the garden in which 
her school was held and started toward the city. Men 
rushed to warn her of a mob of monks waiting to do 
her ill. 

" Shall the daughter of Theon show fear?" she 
asked proudly, and continued her way. Suddenly 
there rushed upon her a mob of monks and Christian 
sympathizers, who dragged her from her chariot and 
into a neighboring church. In that edifice, nominally 
sacred, the girl was stripped of her clothing and mocked 
and jeered as she stood at once defiant and abashed 
before her persecutors. They then fell upon her with 
sharpened bits of shell, pottery, knives and clubs 
till her white and lissome body lost all semblance to 
humanity. In the end it was committed to the flames. 



38 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

So died Hypatia. In our day it would be impossible 
to say for what. Her preachments were the common- 
places of our era. It is true that we have little definite 
knowledge of what she urged, for her writings shared 
a fate similar to her own. They had been deposited 
in the grand library of the Serapion, which was de- 
stroyed by a mob of fanatic Christians headed by the 
Archbishop Theodosius. It is proper to say that the 
erudite historians of the Roman Catholic Church 
demonstrate beyond cavil that this murder was merely 
a riotous outbreak in which the Church had no part. 
Peter the Reader was not a cleric. The whole subject 
is fully discussed by Socrates, the accepted Church 
historian of the fourth century. 



EMPRESS THEODORA 

(Sixth Century A. D.) 
THE GREAT EMPRESS OF THE EAST 

THOUGH the name of Theodora, Empress of 
Rome and wife of the great Justinian, has 
come down through the ages in a halo of 
glory, the origin of the woman that bore 
it was clouded with squalor and with vice. Like the 
water lily that shows its perfect bloom on the blue 
surface of the pond, her beginnings were rooted in 
slime and mud. There is a curious similarity between 
her story and that of Nell Gywn which is to be told 
in a later chapter. 

The father of the girl who was destined to be one 
of the most powerful of the empresses of Rome held 
the interesting public post of bear feeder at the amphi- 
theatre in Constantinople, the seat of Justinian's 
eastern empire. Feeding bears was perhaps not so 
menial an occupation as it sounds. Probably it was 
a highly paid sinecure like helping the king on with 
his coat, or the queen off with her stockings, became 
in the days of Louis XV of France. It must have 
been a valued post, for while upon his death his widow 
promptly secured a new husband and a candidate 
for the profits of the bear pit, she was too late to 
save the latter. 

(39) 



*) WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Three children, all girls, were left by the feeder of 
bears, who left nothing wherewith to feed his progeny. 
Theodora, the eldest, as soon as might be, went on 
the stage to earn a living. Dramatic records of that 
time are but fragmentary, but it appears that she 
was what we would call to-day a pantomimist. She 
never attained to the dignity of what modern actresses 
call a "speaking part." She neither danced nor sang, 
nor played any musical instrument. But in the art 
of facial mimicry, known to our stage as "mugging," 
she was a genius, and her facial contortions never 
failed to bring down the house. It was before the day 
of headlines and spot lights, else she would have 
shone in both. The face with which she took such 
liberties was singularly beautiful. In person and in 
humor she was attractive. Accordingly she naturally 
followed the course of many young favorites of the 
stage in all times and nations. From this time until 
her marriage her life was of a sort that baffles descrip- 
tion. The erudite historians who have studied her 
period recount innumerable anecdotes and descrip- 
tions of her acts and manners, but prudently quote 
them in the original Greek or Latin — thus impressing 
on the average reader the disadvantage of being with- 
out a classical education. 

Her first protector was a governor of Pentapolis, 
in North Africa, who took her with him to his province. 
The girl must, even at that early day, have had ambi- 
tion not to be bounded by an African colony, for she 
speedily quarrelled with her lover and betook herself 
to Alexandria. Failing to impress herself on that 
sophisticated town she returned to Constantinople, 



EMPRESS THEODORA 41 

to find herself forgotten by the roisterers among whom 
she had once been an acknowledged queen. Whether 
from whimsy or necessity she thereupon forsook the 
primrose path, and taking a lodging in the shadow of 
the cathedral, now the mosque of St. Sophia, assumed 
the character of a simple working girl, earning a slender 
but virtuous livelihood by spinning. Being a consum- 
mate actress, she looked the part despite her bygone 
years of riot. 

There is a marked mystery about this period of 
retreat from the madding crowd. Not least mysterious 
is the way in which, living the simple life, she was able 
to attract the attention and win the love of the Em- 
peror of the East, Justinian, who was then reigning 
under the name of his uncle Justin. It has been sug- 
gested that he had known her in her butterfly dayi 
and sought her out in the winter of her discontent. 
But the love he offered her was an honorable one. 
He sought to make her his wife and empress when he 
should fully succeed to the imperial honors. 

At any rate Justinian found her in retreat and took 
her for his own. He could not for the moment marry 
her, as the Roman law prohibited marriage of a pa- 
trician with any woman of servile origin or who had 
followed the unhonored profession of the stage. More- 
over his aunt, the Empress Euphemia, a lady of rustic 
origin and stern morals, would not accept as her niece 
a bride with so questionable a past. Matrimony 
was therefore deferred for a time, but as the recog- 
nized favorite of the emperor she became a power in 
court and a great figure in that Constantinople which 
had once laughed at her grimaces in the Hippodrome. 



42 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

So sincere and earnest was Justinian in his efforts 
to make of Theodora an " honest woman/' as the 
cant phrase is, that it is pleasant to record that she 
never gave him occasion to repent it. From the 
day of her association with him until his death the 
taint of scandal never stained her, and it was a day 
of scandalmongers. After she became in fact his wife 
and the empress regnant she was his truest counsellor 
and veritable right hand. The first step toward 
matrimony was taken when Justinian caused a law 
to be promulgated moderating the rigors of the law 
which regulated the marriages of patricians. About 
the same time he secured the elevation of Theodora 
to the patrician class. When Justin died all obstacles 
to the marriage had thus been smoothed out, and it 
was solemnized in 527 A. D. 

Thenceforth Justinian and Theodora reigned hand 
in hand. The one, the emperor, was by nature staid 
and serious, a man bred to the purple who took his 
responsibilities seriously. The other was in her youth 
— well, never mind what — but when she became the 
consort of the emperor was a woman worthy of re- 
spect. It is said that she was avaricious, eager for the 
accumulation of gold in her own name lest her hus- 
band should die and leave her once again penniless. 
Probably that is true. They say, furthermore, that 
numerous spies, active on her account, were swift 
to report all persons about the court who seemed un- 
friendly, and that a curious poison or a certain dark 
passage down to the Bosporus finally removed such 
suspects. That, too, may be true. ? Twas but the 
custom of the age. Not even torture was beyond her 



EMPRESS THEODORA 43 

methods of controlling her enemies, and it is recorded 
that she found pleasure in personally observing the 
agonies of her victims. 

And yet she not merely joined Justinian in the 
most pious and charitable actions of his reign, but 
suggested many. The woman who could enjoy the 
spectacle of a young man having his ankle bones 
crushed to fragments by wedges driven into the iron 
"boot" that enveloped his leg could turn thence to 
the establishment of a great home for fallen women — 
whose woes she above all others should have under- 
stood. 

In politics and in war she was her husband's best 
adviser. Perhaps her political tact is best shown by 
the fact that in Constantinople, where among the 
public men there must have been hundreds who knew 
her past, she compelled respect and averted scandal. 
Her husband, Justinian, became the most famous 
emperor of the eastern Roman empire, and at all 
times held his wife as chief counsellor. Her death is 
ascribed by most to cancer. To avert it she made a 
long journey to the Pythian warm baths, accom- 
panied by a right royal train of nearly four thousand 
attendants. The baths proved futile; the faithful 
four thousand were of no more avail, and twenty-four 
years after her marriage Theodora died, far from the 
husband who had elevated her from squalor and who 
grieved bitterly for her death. 



ZENOBIA 

(Third Century A. D.) 
THE EMPRESS OF PALMYRA 

4N Amazon if ever there was one; an earlier 
ZJk Joan of Arc without the French maid's re- 
X -O. ligious impulse, an empress who at one time 
ruled over Palmyra, Syria, Egypt, and a large 
part of Asia Minor, Zenobia was one of the great 
figures of the early days of the Christian era. Her 
capital, Palmyra, was the most regal city of the age. 
Its Temple of the Sun outshone in beauty the Par- 
thenon, and imperial Rome had nothing to equal the 
great quadrangle of snowy pillars, seven hundred and 
forty feet to a side, or longer than the Capitol at 
Washington. Roman wrath first wrecked the city, 
and long centuries of occupation by the fanatic hosts 
of Islam completed its demolition. But the infrequent 
travelers who penetrate Syria, now a desert, report 
that nowhere in the world is there so stately and 
mournful a spectacle as these huge ruins of glistening 
white stone, springing from the desolate sands, in 
silent solitude save for a few Mohammedans living 
like pariah dogs in mud huts at their base. 

Over this great city ruled Odenatus, king of Syria, 
a mighty chieftain to whom Rome in the days of their 
amity gave the proud title of Augustus. But one 

(44) 



ZENOBIA 45 



mightier than the king ruled with him in the person 
of his queen, Zenobia. What was the origin of this 
brilliant woman, what the race whence she sprung, 
is lost in the vague traditions of a people who read 
little, wrote less, and perpetuated their history merely 
by word of mouth from father to son. Some have 
said that she was the daughter of an Arab chief; 
others that she was descended from Solomon, who 
according to the Scriptures founded Palmyra. She 
herself claimed to be descended from Cleopatra. 
Gibbon sums all up by saying: "She claimed her 
descent from the Macedonian kings of Egypt, equalled 
in beauty her ancestor Cleopatra, and far surpassed 
that princess in chastity and valor." 

An early historian, Trebellius Pollio, writing while 
the traditions of Zenobia were still fresh, says of her: 

"She went in state to the assemblies of the people 
in a helmet with a purple band fringed with jewels. 
Her robe was clasped with a diamond buckle, and she 
often wore her arms bare. Her complexion was a dark 
brown, her eyes black and sparkling, and of uncommon 
fire. Her countenance was divinely expressive, her 
person graceful in form and motion beyond imagina- 
tion. Her teeth were white as pearls and her voice 
clear and strong. She displayed the severity of a 
tyrant when severity was called for; and the clemency 
of a good prince when justice required it. 

"She was generous with prudence, but a husband- 
ress of wealth more than is the custom with women. 
Sometimes she used a chariot, but more frequently 
rode on horseback. She would march immense dis- 
tances on foot at the head of her infantry, and would 



46 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

drink with her officers, the Armenians and Persians, 
deeply, but with sobriety, using at her banquets gol- 
den goblets, set with jewels, such as Cleopatra was 
wont to use. In her service she employed eunuchs 
advanced in years, and very few damsels. She spoke 
Egyptian perfectly, and was so versed in the history 
of Alexandria and the East, that she made an abridg- 
ment of oriental history." 

Her husband, King Odenatus, was a distinguished 
soldier who drove the Persians under King Sapor 
out of his territory, and in turn invaded theirs, where 
he won several victories. The gossip of the time 
was that Zenobia, who accompanied him on his cam- 
paigns, was the real strategist who mapped out his 
battles; but this seems contradicted by the fact that 
after his assassination by his nephew about 266 A. D., 
her military career was unfortunate and finally went 
down in complete disaster. This may perhaps have 
been due to the fact that Odenatus never had the 
disciplined and stubborn Roman legions to deal with. 

It is probable that the chief cause of Zenobia's 
great military repute was due to her willingness to 
share the lot of the common soldier. In the long 
marches across the deserts she accompanied the 
column, often trudging along on foot. In battle she 
led the charges, mounted usually on a white horse, 
fully caparisoned, in white armor plentifully bedizened 
with gems. Her appearance must have been a glit- 
tering mark for the enemy, but she seemed to have a 
charmed existence and never came to hurt. 

When Odenatus was slain she ascended the throne 
with the title of Queen of the East, ^Her court at 



ZENOBIA 47 



Palmyra was the most splendid of the time. To the 
pomp and dignity of a Roman emperor was united 
the barbarous ostentation and luxury of an Asiatic 
potentate. Rome grew jealous of her magnificence. 
She annexed Egypt, then rich and populous, to her 
domain, and gradually ignored her obligations to 
Rome. Gallienus, then emperor, and a singularly 
puerile one, despatched an army against her, which 
she defeated and drove out of her territory. This 
disgrace galled the proud Roman spirit and when the 
warlike Aurelian became emperor, he himself in 272 
A. D. led an army against Palmyra. Twice in rapid 
succession the Palmyrenes were defeated. Thereupon 
Zenobia shut herself up in Palmyra to stand a siege, 
hoping that Persia might perchance come to her aid. 
She was still undaunted. Her army had been full of 
Roman soldiers who had joined it in the days of 
Odenatus. When Aurelian summoned her to surrender 
she replied: "I have suffered no great loss yet, for 
most of those who have fallen were Romans." There 
was wit in the retort, but historians think that with 
the Romans she lost her best soldiers. 

The siege was protracted. Rome must have jeered 
Aurelian on the delay, for a letter exists in which he 
says: "The Roman people speak with contempt of 
the war I am waging against a woman. They are 
ignorant both of the character and power of Zenobia." 
He for his part had no such ignorance, and he offered 
the queen most liberal conditions of capitulation — an 
honorable retreat for her and continued privileges for 
the citizens. But she unfortunately spurned the 
offer. Shortly thereafter she slipped out of the city, 



48 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

and, with a small bodyguard on fleet camels, made 
for Persia in hopes of getting aid. But just as she was 
stepping into the boat on the bank of the Euphrates 
she was overtaken. Ten minutes more and she would 
have been safe. 

In his tent Aurelian received the captive with the 
cold dignity of a conqueror. "How dared you revolt 
against the emperors of Rome?" he asked. Adopting 
a woman's best weapon, flattery, she replied: "Be- 
cause I disdained to recognize as Roman emperors 
an Aurelius or a Gallienus. You alone I recognize 
as my sovereign." If the soft answer turned away 
the imperial wrath, it did not that of the soldiers who 
clamored for her death. But Aurelian spared her, 
wishing that she should grace his triumph. 

Leaving a small garrison in Palmyra, which, with a 
humanity unusual in a Roman emperor, he had spared 
the horrors of a sack, Aurelian took up the march for 
Rome. In a few days the news reached him that the 
Palmyrenes had risen and massacred the garrison. 
Promptly returning, the Romans fell upon Palmyra, 
slaughtered its people, respecting neither age nor sex, 
and tore its stately structures stone from stone. The 
city was obliterated and its ruined columns stand to- 
day mute memorials of the Roman wrath. 

Months later through the crowded streets of Rome 
Zenobia trudged wearily on foot behind Aurelian's 
triumphal chariot. Great golden chains weighed her 
down, chains so heavy that slaves were forced to 
uphold them. Her dress sparkled with gems, but her 
eyes were dimmed with tears. Behind her, in mute 
irony, rumbled empty the gorgeous chariot in which 



ZENOBIA 



she had once boasted she would enter Rome in tri- 
umph. From every side jeers and insults were heaped 
upon her. In her proudest moment Rome could stoop 
to thus further abase a woman who had fallen. 

Zenobia's disappearance from this world is enveloped 
in doubt like that which attends her birth. Some say 
that, provided by the Senate with a villa in Tivoli, 
she married again and lived out her life in comparative 
happiness. But the Roman historian Zosimus says 
that, brooding over her downfall, the destruction of 
Palmyra, and the disgrace of Aurelian's triumph, she 
refused all food, languished, and died. After all, this 
seems the more fitting end for so great a fallen queen. 



KATHERINE OF ARAGON 

(1485-1536) 
HEBOINE OF THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS DIVORCE 

WITHOUT being in the slightest degree a 
great woman, Katherine of Aragon caused 
so great a revolution in Europe that its 
effects persist until the present day. Be- 
cause of her England was made Protestant, though she 
bred up her daughter, Mary Tudor, to the task of 
making it Catholic again. That he might rid himself 
of her, Henry VIII quarrelled with Rome; a quarrel 
that has never been composed. He broke with her 
father, Ferdinand of Spain, and began that long 
period of English hostility to that nation which finally 
wrecked the Spanish empire and reduced the state of 
Spain from the proudest to the meanest in western 
Europe. 

These things happened because of Katherine. Her 
part in causing them was to marry Henry VIII after 
the death of his brother, her first husband; to be 
unfortunate in not fulfilling what Henry held the 
prime function of a queen, namely, to bear him an 
heir; and finally to resist with all her power, and with 
the potent aid of Rome, the divorce he sought that he 
might marry Anne Boleyn. 
The girl child that caused this tumult in the world 

(50) 



KATHERINE OF ARAGON 51 

of European politics was born of the imperial pair, 
Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, in 1485. Her cradle 
was a camp, for at the time of the child's birth Isabella 
— as great a captain as Ferdinand, or perhaps greater 
— was engaged in the conquest of Granada. Three 
weeks after the event the queen mother was again in 
her saddle directing the troops and inspiring them 
with patience and courage, while in a nursery estab- 
lished in the heart of the besiegers' camp the baby 
Katherine slept with the beat of the drum and the 
roar of the culverins for lullabies. 

Being a princess, it was, of course, desirable that 
she be betrothed before she was weaned. At the 
moment, however, no eligible baby prince was to be 
found, for Spain was then the haughtiest of empires, 
and made its alliances only with the greatest states. 
But shortly there was born to Henry VII of England 
a son, and a treaty of marriage was presently con- 
cluded. The affair lagged somewhat, for Henry was 
avid for a large dowry, while Ferdinand — the same 
monarch who let his wife pawn her jewels to finance 
the expedition of Columbus — clung tightly to his gold. 
The figure was finally fixed, however, at 200,000 scudi 
(or about $200,000) in cash. Many an American 
father has paid more for a mere German count, but 
Ferdinand begrudged it for a Prince of Wales! 

After a careful education at home, by which she 
learned to speak and write French and Latin as fluently 
as her own tongue, the princess, then sixteen years 
old, set out for England to meet her eager bridegroom. 
The prince appears to have been about thirteen years 
old at the time, but in later years his age became a 



52 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

matter of such importance to his brother's divorce as 
to bring out a mass of conflicting and perhaps pur- 
chased testimony of a rather salacious sort. 

A long and tedious voyage across the notoriously 
turbulent Bay of Biscay and English Channel finally 
brought Katherine to England. She was received 
with acclaim, for the British public was heartily in 
favor of the Spanish alliance. The lover she found 
awaiting her was a sturdy boy, large for his alleged 
age, fair haired, ruddy of complexion. She . for her 
part was also fair, with a good color, plump, with a 
glint of red in her hair, and graceful of manner. 
Though Katherine had been educated in French, the 
language of courts, Prince Arthur had not, and the 
two conversed through the interpretation of two 
archbishops. 

The marriage was solemnized on November 14th, 
and after due feasting and celebration the pair set 
forth for Ludlow Castle, in Wales. There was grave 
debate in the privy council as to the wisdom of letting 
the two children go forth thus as man and wife, despite 
the ceremony, because of the bridegroom's age. Curi- 
ous though the point seems, it turned out later to be 
one of vital importance to England and to Rome, 
for after five weeks of outwardly seeming married 
bliss Prince Arthur died. Years after the question 
whether during that period, with so young a husband, 
Katherine became more than a wife in name only, 
menaced the peace of all Europe. 

With a fine show of paternal affection Ferdinand 
wrote to Henry VII to send the widowed princess 
home. Unfortunately he also asked that the 100,000 



KATHERINE OF ARAGON 53 

scudi sent to England with Katherine, as a first 
payment on account of the dowry, be returned with 
her. But to the loss of his son and heir Henry did 
not propose to add the pangs of parting with that 
Spanish gold. So he replied that he would find his 
daughter-in-law another suitable match, and sug- 
gested his second son, now heir apparent, aged 
eleven. While Spain was considering this, Henry be- 
came a widower and cheerfully proposed to marry 
Katherine himself. But this was too much even for 
the marriage brokers of Spain, and the royal offer 
was declined. Isabella then demanded the immediate 
return of her daughter and the share of the dowry 
already paid, or the prompt betrothal of the new 
Prince of Wales to the Princess Katherine. The 
betrothal was agreed upon in 1503, the prince being 
then twelve, the princess eighteen. To the marriage 
treaty attached the condition that the couple should 
be married when the prince had attained the age of 
fourteen, that a papal dispensation should be obtained 
legalizing the marriage of Henry to his brother's 
widow, and above all that the second instalment of 
the dowry, 100,000 scudi, should be promptly paid. 
Though the widow of one heir to the English throne 
and the affianced bride to the heir apparent, Princess 
Katherine found the world upon which she was thus 
rudely thrust a cold and callous one. It all grew out 
of the still unpaid 100,000 scudi of her dowry to 
which Ferdinand clung like Shylock to his ducats, 
and the payment of which Henry demanded as a con- 
dition precedent to the marriage. The prince reached 
the contract age, but as the dowry was not forthcom- 



54 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

ing no marriage took place. Nor did the kingly 
father-in-law, who had been willing enough to marry 
Katherine himself, or to give her to either or both 
of his sons, care to charge his royal revenues with 
her board and gowns. Neither did her own father. 
Incredible as it may seem, the girl on the very 
threshold of a throne was reduced to the extreme of 
penury. Her maids were unpaid, her establishment 
shabby, and she wrote home that in the four and a 
half years she had been in England she had had but 
two new gowns. At last Ferdinand disgorged the 
remaining 100,000 scudi; the pope had issued the 
needed dispensation authorising her marriage to her 
dead husband's brother. There was no reason why 
the marriage should not be solemnized, but Henry 
VII invented reason after reason for postponement, 
until at last his genius for diplomatic delay was 
suddenly stilled by death. That was in 1509, more 
than four years after the time set for the marriage. 

Henry VIII was eighteen years old when he ascended 
the throne, a ruddy, pleasure-loving boy. Katherine 
was twenty-four. The contract of marriage made on 
his behalf when he was but twelve years old was 
hardly binding upon him in the days of his compara- 
tive maturity, and for some time Katherine waited 
in an agony of apprehension lest he should ignore it 
and cast her back upon the world which had treated 
her so harshly. Her queen mother had by this time 
died, and her father was still pottering with his scudi 
and leaving his daughter to shift for herself. It was 
a period of sore anxiety for Katherine, but it was 
ended when Henry, moved by one of the few honor- 



KATHERINE OF ARAGON 55 

able impulses of his life, asked the woman, who had 
waited so long, to marry him at once. In 1509 they 
were married and duly crowned at Westminster. 

There followed for Katherine a period of happiness 
all the more joyous for the long season of privation 
and neglect that had preceded it. Her husband was 
young — six years younger than she — handsome, cheery, 
and devoted. In affairs of state he deferred con- 
tinually to her elder judgment, and she was a true 
power at a court which was one of the gayest of its 
age. But the first rift within the lute came when her 
first child came prematurely, still-born . Henry, 
though disappointed, passed the matter off with a 
coarse jest. A year later a son was born, but the 
rejoicings of the court were hardly ended when the 
little prince, already provided by his father with an 
establishment of his own, died. Five children in all 
Katherine bore to Henry. One only, Mary Tudor, 
known later as " Bloody Mary," passed the period 
of childhood. 

To Henry this was a cruel disappointment. He 
yearned for a man-child, and his irritation was not 
decreased by the fact that an illegitimate son grew 
and thrived apace. "Why," he asked gloomily, 
"should all my legitimate sons die while this one lives 
and grows sturdy and robust?" It was then that he 
became possessed with the idea that he had sinned in 
marrying his brother's widow, and that Katherine's 
failure to present him with an heir was the punishment 
imposed by God. All other services done for him by 
his queen, even when in his absence she organized an 
army and decisively defeated the Scots in the battle 



56 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

of Flodden Field, could not blot out his resentment. 
This grew to fever heat when Ferdinand, with whom 
he was engaged in a war with France, concluded a 
dishonorable treaty without consulting him. A treach- 
erous father-in-law, a barren wife Henry thought was 
his lot, and he resolved to correct it. He became 
fairly morbid on the subject and apparently sincerely 
believed he was accursed because he had married his 
brother's widow. Accordingly he planned to lay the 
curse by securing a divorce and marrying Anne Boleyn, 
a pretty maid of honor to his queen. For by this 
time the tender soul of Henry was less bent upon 
expiating the supposed sin of his marriage than it 
was upon getting a younger and prettier wife. There 
is no doubt, however, that at the outset, his mind 
made morbid by the death of so many of his children, 
he did believe himself under the dire displeasure of 
the Deity. 

The story of that divorce must be told briefly; 
the evidence in the suit cannot, because of its nature, 
be recounted at all. The king claimed that his mar- 
riage to Katherine was null and void from the first 
because she was his brother's widow, and marriage 
with a brother's widow or a deceased wife's sister was 
unlawful. That the pope had granted a special dis- 
pensation for this marriage did not alter the case, 
even though that dispensation was asked for by the 
king himself. For, he pleaded, the pope could not 
issue a dispensation to permit a man to commit a 
deadly sin, and furthermore, he, Henry, was too young 
to know what he asked when he besought this un- 
righteous privilege. 



KATHERINE OF ARAGO N 57 

Katherine for her part pleaded that the papal dis- 
pensation absolutely legalized her marriage, and on 
that point she rested her case with Rome. But she 
went on to aver that because of her first husband's 
youth the marriage was one in name only, and there- 
fore null and void. The evidence taken on this plea 
of the queen's was much more suitable for a court of 
archbishops in the fifteenth century than for American 
readers to-day. 

Rome stood by the queen. Though a new pope 
was on the throne he knew he must uphold the act 
of his predecessor. But instead of deciding the case 
he diplomatized, postponed, and delayed. Henry, 
eager for his nuptials, would brook no delay. His 
envoys haunted Rome. His agents sought to allay 
the feeling among the people of London whose sym- 
pathy was with the queen. But he could win neither 
the pope nor the people. 

Matters hung fire for years. Katherine was obdu- 
rate; the pope procrastinated; Mistress Boleyn would 
listen to nothing short of a full marriage ceremony, 
and Henry was frantic with rage and disappointed 
desire. 

Of course amid the throng of cardinals and bishops 
by whom Henry was surrounded there were plenty 
to advise him to do the thing he wished and be sure 
it would find favor in the eyes of the Almighty. Most 
successful of these clerical courtiers was Thomas 
Cranmer, who wrote a book in support of the king's 
contention, and was rewarded by being made arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, from which place Wolsey, who 
had advised against the divorce, was coldly turned out. 



58 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Into the deposed cardinal's mouth Shakespeare puts 
these plaintive words: 

Had I but served my God with half the zeal 
I served my king, he would not in mine age 
Have left me naked to mine enemies! 

But by this time Henry was done with popes and 
cardinals. Matters rushed swiftly to a conclusion. 
A second trial of the issue of the legality of his mar- 
riage, held under the complaisant Cranmer, granted 
the divorce which Wolsey's court had refused. The 
pope refused to approve the finding, and Henry turned 
in rage to stamp Catholicism out of England. Heads 
fell, priests were burned at the stake, monasteries 
sacked — all that a love-mad king might possess a 
pretty maid of honor. As for Katherine, she was 
imprisoned, deprived by act of Parliament of her 
title and station, and her daughter, Mary Tudor, 
taken from her. When the poor woman died in 1536 
it was believed that she had been poisoned, but proof 
was lacking. Strangely enough she maintained to 
the end her fealty to the brute who so misused her, 
and her last words, written in the Latin she knew so 
well, were: 

"Oculi mei te solum desiderant. Vale." — "Mine 
eyes desire thee only. Farewell." 




ANNE BOLEYN 

Mdlio/uil I J o rtnt it Gdllrrij. P (tinier utile no ivti 



ANNE BOLEYN 

(1507-1536) 
A MARTYRED QUEEN OF HENRY VIII 

OF the hapless women whom ambition or con- 
siderations of state led to link their lives 
with that of the most uxorious of monarchs, 
Henry VIII, the story of Anne Boleyn is the 
most pathetic. It is pitiful, because she for so brief 
a time enjoyed the confidence and love of the king, 
her husband; because of the cruelty of the aspersions 
that were cast upon her character; because of the 
fact that, although she desired to gratify her liege 
lord in the ambition which had led him to marry 
her, nature thwarted her, and, finally, because of the 
fact that the man who had promised to love and cher- 
ish her not merely sent her to the block, but a few 
hours before the axe fell, persuaded a pliant archbishop 
to grant him a divorce and declare the marriage in- 
valid from the very beginning. 

Anne Boleyn was the daughter of a prosperous 
English country gentleman, whose alliance with no- 
bility proceeded from the fact that his wife was the 
daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. History leaves us 
in doubt as to the date of the girl's birth, fixing it 
diversely at 1501 and 1507. Though there is no 
evidence that Anne's parents foresaw or even imagined 

(59) 



60 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

the brilliant — and disastrous — career and fate the 
future held for her, she was educated in a way to fit 
her to adorn any court, receiving her final schooling 
at the gay and witty court of France. 

In 1522 Anne returned to England with all the 
French airs and graces. She is described as having 
been at this time a tall, slender girl, well shaped, with 
black eyes and a brunette complexion. More than one 
writer of the time refers to her beauty as of the gypsy 
type. Her voice was marvelously sweet, both in speech 
and song, and her wit and ready repartee sparkled 
even as did her eyes. About her age on her return 
chroniclers differ, though a most trustworthy account 
declares that when Henry VIII first met her at a fancy 
dress ball immediately upon her return she was but 
fifteen years old. The king was instantly infatuated 
and his pursuit of the girl never relaxed until she 
became his wife. Anne, while not a prude, was at 
least prudent, and though residing at the court as a 
maid of honor, she bore herself so that the breath of 
scandal was not raised against her. She stood out for 
the full measure of wifehood and the status of a queen. 
Both were ultimately granted, both taken away and 
her young life as well. 

Henry was at the time one of the most splendid 
and powerful monarchs of Christendom. He had to 
wife Katherine, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella 
of Spain, and with her he gained the favor of the 
pope and close alliance with Spain. But Katherine 
bore him no sons who survived infancy, and like all 
men — even our own captains of industry — as his power 
and fame increased he yearned passionately for an 



ANNE BOLEYN 61 



heir to whom to transmit his crown. Long before 
he had become infatuated with Anne he had begun 
plotting to divorce Katherine, but the obstacles in 
his way seemed insuperable. Spain, of course, bitterly 
opposed the divorce and the pope set his face relent- 
lessly against it. But the sudden discovery of the 
sprightly and vivacious Anne, who responded to all 
his overtures only with arch remarks about a neces- 
sary marriage spurred the king to desperate measures. 

In the end he defied the pope, secured a decree of 
divorce from an archbishop — who held his place at 
the king's will — and married Anne, or rather announced 
that the marriage had taken place two months earlier. 
Very soon came the news that the new queen was 
about to present the king with the long-desired heir. 
The court was in an ecstasy of apparent rapture — 
though most of the courtiers hated Anne because of 
her sudden elevation to power. Soothsayers, diviners, 
wise women, all the claque of prophesying humbugs 
foresaw the birth of a boy, knowing what they were 
expected to prophesy. All the omens forecast it. 
And then fate, which often rough-hews the lives of 
royalty as well as of lesser folk, cast the die. 

On the 7th of September, 1533, the child was born. 
It was a girl. 

With that disappointment the wreck of Anne's 
fortunes began. With the unreasonableness of a 
spoiled child the king laid all the blame on her. He 
at once began to neglect his wife, though not abridg- 
ing in any degree her royal state nor limiting her 
freedom. His infidelities were as numerous as noto- 
rious, and at them the queen was obliged to wink. 



62 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Then for one brief space there seemed a possibility 
of a return to the happy days of their early wedded 
life. Once more there seemed prospect of a child 
and once again the king was devotion itself. The 
court turned from conspiring for her undoing to fawn- 
ing for her favor. 

The child came. It was the much-desired boy, but 
it was born dead. 

Thereupon the king lost all interest in her. Within 
the court the conspiracies for her downfall doubled 
with no effort on his part to check them. Anne was 
in a most direful position. All the Catholic forces of 
Europe were against her. From every convent, mon- 
astery and church were spread rumors attacking her 
chastity before and after marriage. Spain had even 
refused to recognize her as queen. Her own court, 
of course, was hostile. Eager eyes were ever on the 
watch to detect her in some act on which to hang 
a scandalous tale, and lively imaginations were ready 
to invent scandals that had no foundation. 

Anne met the impending crisis in a way that could 
only enhance its gravity. She was still queen and 
relaxed nothing of her queenly haughtiness. In the 
days of her power, when Henry would refuse her 
nothing, she snubbed the greatest figures in the king- 
dom, and now, out of favor and gliding swiftly to a 
fall, she did the same. Was her husband cold and 
sombre with her? Then she would disguise her out- 
raged feelings by being the merriest coquette about 
the court. That she flirted outrageously there seems 
to be no doubt, but that her flirtations passed beyond 
the danger point not even the inquisitors at her trial 



ANNE BOLEYN 63 



were able to show. Four young men of fashion 
particularly paid lively court to her, loaded her with 
compliments and ogled her before the sinister eyes 
of her foes. One, in his cups, boasted that she 
accorded him the most intimate favors, and the other 
three being complimented upon like good fortune, 
smiled and did not deny the soft impeachment. They 
won the reputation, which some men envy, of being 
gay Lotharios, and a few weeks later paid for it with 
their heads after preliminary experiences in the tor- 
ture chamber. 

Henry's mind was fertile for the seed sown by those 
who told him the worst features of Anne's conduct. 
He had already determined that, like Katherine, she 
was u an unlucky woman" and that in denying him 
a son God was punishing him for some technical flaw 
in his marriage. He was the more willing to take a 
harsh view of Anne's peccadilloes for that he was 
now desperately in love with Jane Seymour, maid of 
honor to Anne as the latter had been maid to Kath- 
erine. The four gay cavaliers were sent to the Tower, 
Rochford, the queen's brother, followed them, and a 
few days later Queen Anne herself entered that door- 
way to death. 

It is idle to detail the trial that ensued. Under 
English law at that time persons accused of high 
treason were denied all counsel. Their sole method 
of defense was to interrupt crown witnesses with ques- 
tions or make bold denials of guilt. Anne was pitted 
against three of the ablest lawyers in the land. The 
jury was packed — six held office under the crown, 
two were her notorious enemies, and of the other 



64 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

four nothing is known. Of course, the queen was 
convicted. Of the host of trials for treason up to that 
time one only had resulted in an acquittal, because 
the crown was behind all. 

So on the 19th of May, 1536, Anne Boleyn went 
to the scaffold — a scant three years after she went 
to the throne. At her supplication Henry had gra- 
ciously consented that she be decapitated with a sword 
instead of the axe, the common lot of traitors. This 
royal boon she acknowledged, saying: "The king 
has been very good to me. He promoted me from a 
simple maid to be a marchioness. Then he raised me 
to be a queen. Now he will raise me to a martyr." 

And so. like a martyr, tearless and unflinching, she 
died. 



MARY TUDOR 

(1516-1558) 
"BLOODY MARY," THE MAKER OF MARTYRS 

MANY an American child grown to woman- 
hood, after the usual education in our public 
schools, will remember little of her English 
history painfully and perhaps tearfully 
learned. But she will instantly recall "Bloody Mary." 
So immortality is often conferred by an epithet, some- 
times undeserved. Mary Tudor, whose name has 
been handed down coupled with this sanguinary 
adjective, may or may not have deserved it. She 
has her defenders, as had Torquemada and Lucrezia 
Borgia, but popular history has branded her as 
" Bloody' 9 to the end of time. 

Mary Tudor was the daughter of King Henry VIII 
of England and his first queen, Katherine of Aragon. 
Her history is interwoven with that of the other royal 
women whom this detestable monarch either married 
or fathered, but upon whom in either case descended 
the curse of association with Henry. 

When a girl was born to royalty in those brave 
days of the divine right of kings, the first step was 
to see how her hand in marriage could be exchanged 
for a profitable alliance with some other royal house. 
And so the infant Mary had scarcely raised her first 

5 (65) 



66 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

earthly wail at Greenwich Palace, February 18, 1516, 
than the king, her father, set about finding a royal 
spouse for her. Katherine of Aragon, ablest of all 
Henry's galaxy of wives, set her heart on betrothing 
her daughter to Emperor Charles V of Spain. Spain 
was then at the height of its glory. In extent of 
possessions, in character and in intellectual attain- 
ments Charles was easily the leading figure in the 
courts of Europe. At the age of twenty-three, blithe 
and debonair, he visited England to make the ac- 
quaintance of the six-year-old princess whom Kath- 
erine had picked out to be his queen. In the end a 
solemn treaty of betrothal was concluded at Windsor 
by which Charles bound himself to marry the Princess 
Mary when she had reached her twelfth year. 

Destined to joint occupancy of the throne of the 
greatest monarch of Europe, her education for that 
station became a matter of natural concern to her 
mother. As guide, philosopher and friend, one Ludo- 
vicus Vives, a Spaniard of grave if not sombre learn- 
ing, was called in. The course of education which he 
laid down for Mary was this: She should read the 
Gospels night and morning, the Acts of. the Apostles; 
selected portions of the Old Testament and the works 
of Cyprian, Jerome, Augustine and Ambrose; like- 
wise Plato, Cicero, Seneca's Maxims, Plutarch, the 
Utopia of Sir Thomas Moore and selected portions of 
Horace. Greek and Latin were to be made as familiar 
to her as her mother tongue. Cards, dice, the reading 
of romances and indulgence in handsome dress were 
proscribed as pestiferous. 

Contemporary biographers note with mild surprise 



MARY TUDOR 67 



that Mary emerged from this educational torment a 
girl of delicate health and melancholy disposition. 

Meanwhile her royal father had wearied of her 
mother and yearned for another and a younger spouse. 
Rumors that Henry would soon divorce Katherine 
became rife. They reached the ears of the Emperor 
Charles, who saw at once that the divorce contem- 
plated would make Mary illegitimate and ineligible 
to the throne. Accordingly he cancelled the marriage 
contract entered into with such pomp only a few 
years before. 

Thereafter mother and daughter led a life of misery. 
Infatuated with Anne Boleyn, Henry pursued with 
rancor all who opposed his course. Katherine stood 
bravely for her rights. Mary, with filial spirit, sup- 
ported her mother. Both were exiled from court, 
Mary given almost servile employment as lady in 
waiting to her own half sister, Elizabeth, daughter 
of Anne Boleyn. Even when her mother died, in 
1536, she was refused permission to be at the deathbed. 

About this time Anne Boleyn, for whom the king 
had divorced Katherine, fell under his displeasure. 
To her was not granted the comparative mercy of a 
divorce, but she was handed straightway over to the 
headsman. Being thus restored to single state, King 
Henry set about re-establishing relations with his 
daughter. His method was peculiar, to say the least, 
for the price of his favor was that she should formally 
recognize the divorce of her mother as righteous and 
thereby accept her own illegitimacy. Though Mary 
signed the document, Parliament practically nullified 
the action by passing a resolution, three years before 



68 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Henry's death, restoring to Mary all the rights of a 
legitimate daughter. 

When Henry died in 1546, full of years and dis- 
honor, his only son, Edward VI, succeeded him. The 
reign was a brief one, and brought to Mary little 
relief from her trials and perplexities. The religious 
controversy burst forth with redoubled fury in Eng- 
land. Edward's sympathies were strongly Protestant, 
and he prescribed regulations for the solemnization of 
mass and the conduct of religious services, against 
which Mary bitterly protested. She did more than 
protest, and openly defied the new law by having 
mass said in Latin in her own private chapel. When 
ordered to desist she appealed to his most Catholic 
majesty, Charles V of Spain, the betrothed of her 
childhood days, who straightway threatened war if 
his cousin's devotions were interfered with. 

Edward's reign proceeded speedily, but not smoothly, 
to its end. His administration was rent by faction 
and honeycombed with conspiracy. His very premier, 
Lord Northumberland, plotted to so change the suc- 
cession that on Edward's death the crown should 
pass to Lady Jane Grey, Northumberland's daughter- 
in-law, instead of the half sisters of Edward, The 
effort was successful, but briefly so only, as we shall 
see. 

Of Mary Tudor's lawful claim to the throne on the 
death of Edward VI there could be but little doubt. 
She claimed it alike by act of Parliament and by 
inheritance from her father, Henry VIII. But had 
she not possessed a more powerful argument than either 
of these she would have gone to her grave uncrowned 



MARY TUDOR 69 



and, perhaps, without a head to wear a crown. For 
the Duke of Northumberland, thinking complete and 
unshakable the plans he made, had his daughter-in- 
law, Lady Jane Grey, proclaimed queen in the Tower 
and was raising an army to support her pretensions. 

Mary herself was in evil sort. Prominent and tried 
advisers she had none, for of those who sat about the 
council board, both of Henry and Edward, practically 
all were acting in collusion with Northumberland. 
Dazed and irresolute for the moment, she fled from 
London to Suffolk, leaving the field to Lady Jane. 
But her flight and seeming weakness roused up for 
her the one power that could bring Northumberland's 
plans to dismal disaster. The people of England, who 
had openly sided with her mother against King Henry 
and who had compelled Parliament to announce Mary's 
right to the succession, now rose to enforce that right. 
They rose with such unanimity as to prevent North- 
umberland from raising an army. The noble duke 
fled like a cur, leaving his daughter-in-law, for whose 
success he had plotted for years, to meet the long 
suffering of imprisonment and the swift, sharp anguish 
of the axe. Within nine days of her brother's death 
Mary was proclaimed queen. 

The reign upon which the English people now so 
joyously embarked proved brief, turbulent and bloody. 
Froude — most picturesque of English historians — says 
of it: "No English sovereign ascended the throne with 
larger popularity than Mary. The country was 
eager to atone to her for her mother's injuries. All 
the instinctive loyalty of the English toward the 
natural sovereign was enhanced by the abortive at- 



70 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

tempt of Northumberland to rob her of her inherit- 
ance. She reigned little more than five years, and 
descended into the grave amid deeper curses than the 
acclamations which greeted her accession. In that 
brief time she had swathed her name in the horrible 
epithet which will cling to it forever, and yet from 
the passions which in general tempt sovereigns to 
crime she was entirely free." 

History has yet to determine the forces which led 
Mary into the courses which brought disaster upon 
her reign and obloquy upon her name. But the facts 
of her career are clear and undisputed. Destitute, 
as I have said, of wise advisers at home, she turned 
for guidance to Charles V of Spain, and doubtless at 
his suggestion married his son, Philip VI, a boy eleven 
years her junior, whose indifference to her and to 
England were notorious and whose infidelities were 
innumerable. The marriage and the resultant alliance 
with Spain were unpopular among her subjects. They 
had known well enough that her accession would mean 
the effort to replace the "old religion," or the Roman 
Catholic faith, but while the nation was fairly tolerant 
on the subject it wished the task accomplished by 
Englishmen, not by Spaniards. Moreover, Spain was 
at war with France, and the English, who above all 
things desired peace, foresaw truly that they would 
be dragged into a quarrel not of their choosing. Par- 
liament sent a delegation to Mary to protest against 
the marriage and various parts of England rose in 
armed revolt. Thus swiftly were heard the portents 
of the storm destined to turn the most popular of new 
queens into the most abhorred of English sovereigns. 



MARY TUDOR 71 



As Henry had outlawed Catholicism by royal man- 
date, so, too, Mary replaced it as the state religion 
of the land. In her zeal and contrition for the past 
she even persuaded the pope to despatch Cardinal 
Pole to absolve the whole nation from the sin of living 
in heresy for so many years. Yet the task to which 
Mary had set her hand was not accomplished with 
the ease with which Henry VIII had wrought his 
religious revolution. When the Catholics had been 
rudely shorn of power the rich lands which surrounded 
their abbeys, the ruins of which still stand in the 
garden spots of England, had been royally distributed 
by Henry among his favorites and the husbands of 
his mistresses. Many a proud ducal house of Eng- 
land to-day owes its princely rent roll to this kingly 
largesse. The restoration of Catholicism to favor 
implied the restoration of these lands to their former 
holders. But to this plan, so obviously just, the 
beneficiaries of Henry's distribution of plunder raised 
furious objection. To nice theological questions they 
could well afford to be indifferent; the elevation of 
the Host they might endure, but the sacrifice of their 
broad pastures, their rolling wheat fields, cool green 
forests and lush meadows bordering rippling streams 
could not be considered for a moment. Composition 
and compensation were essential, and these Mary 
effected, thereby holding to her the ruling class in the 
country. 

No aid, either of advice or co-operation, came to 
Mary from her Spanish husband amid these per- 
plexities of state. Not even the affection which might 
at times have aided the queen to forget her troubles 



72 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

was vouchsafed to her. True, it was scarce within the 
confines of reason for her to have expected much 
domestic bliss from a marriage of state contracted 
with a man eleven years her junior. To him she 
brought an imperious will, a rasping temper, a mas- 
culine manner and a sickly constitution. Intellectually 
she was superb, speaking all modern languages with 
fluency, and a match for the subtlest in controversy. 
She had the feminine virtues and weaknesses, delight- 
ing in embroidery and music and prone to sudden 
illness and to fits of hysteria when crossed or grieved. 
From Philip she experienced indifference, neglect and 
final abandonment. 

A year after his marriage Philip went to Brussels 
to receive at the hands of his father the government 
of the Low Countries, as Holland and Belgium were 
then called. He was absent a year and a half and 
during this time doubtless contracted that infatuation 
for his cousin, the queen of Denmark, which only a 
few months later led to his decisive and final deser- 
tion of his wife. Better would it have been for Mary 
and her kingdom had he not paid this last brief visit 
to England. During his stay he involved the nation 
in the Spanish war with France. It is not too much 
to say that the conduct and the outcome of the war 
reflected little credit on the English arms, for as one 
of its results England lost Calais, the possession of 
which had long been a source of pride to the sovereign 
and people alike. We can see now that the retention 
of Calais in British hands would have been a constant 
and recurrent incitement to further wars. Geographic- 
ally and nationally it belonged to France. But to 



MARY TUDOR 73 



the British people it was as emblematic of British 
power abroad as Gibraltar is to-day. They called it 
"the brightest jewel in the English crown/' and with 
characteristic bravado had inscribed over its gates: 

Then shall the Frenchman Calais win, 
When iron and lead like cork shall swim. 

Froude says of public sentiment at the time: "If 
Spain should suddenly rise into her ancient strength 
and tear Gibraltar from us, our mortification would 
be faint compared to the anguish of humiliated pride 
with which the loss of Calais distracted the subjects 
of Queen Mary." Some think the disaster hastened 
Mary's death. Certain it is that it extended her 
growing unpopularity among the English people. 

Maddened by reverses in war, brooding over her 
husband's neglect and notorious infidelities, Mary 
began that course of religious persecution which finally 
riveted to her name the ghastly epithet by which all 
posterity came to know her. Her stanch defenders 
take issue with the word "persecution," claiming 
that she only enforced the laws as enacted by Par- 
liament. The re-establishment of Catholicism was 
attended by the literal re-enactment of the laws for the 
suppression of heresy — laws breathing the spirit of the 
middle ages and wholly out of tune with the budding 
spirit of liberty and tolerance in the English people. 
Mary went not a whit beyond the letter of these laws 
when in the brief space of a little more than three 
years she caused three hundred victims, of whom sixty 
were women and forty children, to be burned at the 
stake for presuming to worship God after their own 
fashion. 



74 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

But she was all powerful with Parliament. A 
word from her to it would have caused the immediate 
amendment of the heresy laws so as to put them 
more in accordance with the spirit of the times. But 
the word was not spoken. She thought, and doubt- 
less sincerely, that the surest way to re-establish the 
old religion among her people and to crush out irrever- 
ence was to put to death with every circumstance 
of barbarity and horror all who preached against it. 
Never was there a more mistaken belief. Whatever 
the creed may be, the ancient maxim, "The blood 
of the martyrs is the seed of the church," applies to 
all alike. Never was a truer word spoken than the 
injunction laid upon Master Ridley by stout old 
Bishop Latimer as the flames enveloped them under 
the shadow of the Oxford colleges: 

"Be of good comfort, Master Ridley. Play the 
man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God's 
grace, in England as I trust shall never be put out." 

Long before the end of the fifth year of her reign 
Mary had come to be the most detested figure in all 
England. Prayers for her death were openly offered 
in the churches, and for the gratification of theb 
pious wish her subjects had little time to wait. Falling 
ill of a malarial fever, Mary grew swiftly worse, and 
on the 17th of November, 1558, after receiving ex- 
treme unction, mass was celebrated in her chamber. 
At the sacred function of the elevation of the Host 
she lifted her eyes to heaven, and at the benediction 
fell back upon her pillow dead. 

Cruel and hard had been the life of Mary Tudor, 
and that her disposition grew hard and cruel seems but 



MARY TUDOR 75 



natural. The student of her life can scarce select 
one day from the time she was turned over to the 
educational endeavors of the " modern Quintilian" 
until her death which could have been unreservedly 
happy. What she thought of her queenhood was 
shown in her dying request that no semblance of a 
crown should press upon her dead brow, praying 
instead she be buried in the simple habit of a poor 
religieuse. 



MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS 

(1542-1587) 
A VICTIM OF HER OWN INTRIGUES 

A BOUT the name of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, 

jL\ tradition has built up a fabric of romance 
M A. which history is far from supporting— the story 
of the beautiful young queen from the earliest 
days of her infancy made the pawn of rival factions 
playing for the thrones of England and Scotland, 
and the figure about which raged the savage warfare 
between Catholic and Protestant in England in the 
sixteenth century. 

But Mary Queen of Scots was no pawn except in 
her very earliest days. On the chess board of inter- 
national intrigue she was every inch a queen, and 
save for the fact that she had to encounter one of the 
greatest monarchs who ever sat on the English throne 
— Elizabeth — she might have attained her ambition 
of adding to her undisputed queenship of Scotland the 
throne of England as well. 

As it was, betrayed by too lofty ambition and 
outgeneraled at every point by "Good Queen Bess" — 
who was not so amazingly good, by the way — she 
ended her days on the scaffold. Readers of romance 
think of her as a young girl pathetically baring her 
neck to the headman's axe. As a matter of fact, she 

(76) 



MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS 77 

was forty-five when her supreme fate befell her. It 
was characteristic of the life of pretense she had led 
that when the executioner sought to raise her severed 
head by its tresses of glorious auburn hair to display 
it to the people, the hair came off in his grasp, a skull 
scantily covered with patches of gray hair fell to the 
scaffold, and Jack Ketch was left grasping naught 
but a wig! 

Mary was born December 7, 1542. As she came 
into a world heavily freighted with sorrow and woe 
for her, King James V of Scotland, her father, was going 
out of it with a broken heart. 

Henry VIII, who sat on the throne of England when 
Mary was born and James V died, began at once to 
intrigue for the union of the crown of England and 
Scotland by the marriage of Mary to his son, the Prince 
of Wales. The infants concerned, still wrapped in 
swaddling clothes, were not consulted, but every fac- 
tion, political or religious, in either England or Scot- 
land had its say and in the end the negotiations fell 
through. Religious controversies had much to do 
with the failure. The queen dowager and the dominant 
powers in Scotland were Catholic; Henry and his 
party in England Protestant. It was the day when 
men by the thousands slit one another's throats to 
uphold or demolish a religious dogma, and nations 
went to war over a mooted text in the creed. 

At this time Mary was indeed a pawn. Setting 
aside the English alliance, the court party in Scotland 
arranged for her to be sent to France, there to be 
placed in charge of His Most Catholic Majesty Henry 
II. This was in itself a deadly affront to England. 



78 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

That nation and France were inveterate enemies, 
chronically at war. Up and down the English channel 
sailed the English fleet, hoping to intercept the French 
royal galley which was taking the baby queen to her 
new school. But its vigilance was evaded. 

Then followed twelve years of happiness for little 
Mary. Hardly had she arrived when discussion of 
her betrothal to the dauphin, or eldest son of the King 
of France, began. The diplomacy of the affair was 
apparent. With the French and Scottish thrones 
united, England would be isolated between two of her 
ancient and uncompromising enemies. While the 
diplomats were planning this coup, tutors of the 
highest order of scholarship were educating the child 
to fit her for high place in the society of European 
monarchs. Ronsard, whose name still ranks high 
among writers of French verse, taught her to turn 
a sonnet with true poetic art — an accomplishment 
which in time cost her dear, for a sonnet, obviously 
from her pen, was the means of fixing upon her the 
authorship of the "casket letters," which contributed 
to her final downfall. Nothing was left undone to 
instil into the mind of this little Scotch lassie the 
esprit of what was then the richest, most refined and 
most dissolute court of Europe. Be assured that her 
religious education was in nowise neglected. Her 
uncle, the Cardinal of Lorraine, had that in charge, 
and the girl grew up a confirmed Roman Catholic, 
though the queen of later days had often for political 
reasons to conceal her faith. As the child's mind grew 
in knowledge and adaptability her beauty became 
more and more engaging, until when she was sixteen 



MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS 79 

it was conceded that in no court of all Europe was 
there a woman with superior attractions of mind and 
person. 

Then began the evolution of the little pawn into 
the haughty queen. In April, 1558, the sixteen-year- 
old Queen of Scots was married to the fifteen-year-old 
Dauphin of France. The stately cathedral at Rheims 
was the scene of the ceremony, which was made as 
picturesque and gorgeous as the art-loving and luxurious 
court of France could conceive it. 

life must have seemed bright to the young queen 
that day. True, her marriage was an affair of politics, 
and nothing has ever shown that she cared for her 
husband, who was of but slender intellect. For that, 
however, Mary speedily made up by caring much for 
a multiplicity of other gallants. But at this moment 
one life only stood between her and the throne of 
France, and it was scarce a year after the marriage 
when King Henry II was slain in a tourney and the 
young couple ascended the throne. As for Scotland, 
it was Mary's at will. Her mother, the queen dowager, 
was governing it during her absence, but its people 
were ready to welcome the child monarch at any 
time. 

Consider on what slight things the destinies of 
nations once hung — perhaps still do. The chance 
thrust of a lance in a friendly joust made Mary Queen 
of Scots Queen of France as well. Then came the am- 
bition, instilled and nurtured by the international 
politicians of the French court, to become Queen of 
England — the ambition that led to her ultimate down- 
fall. Yet it was an ambition not wholly without 



80 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

plausible excuse. According to Catholic conviction, 
Queen Elizabeth, who had now succeeded to the throne 
of England, was illegitimate by birth and barred from 
rightful claim to the crown. 

It is proper to note here that in dealing with the 
history of these kingdoms in that day the terms "Cath- 
olic" and "Protestant" must be taken as referring to 
rival political factions rather than to religious bodies. 

The cloud cast on the title of Elizabeth to the 
English throne stirred that prince of French politicians, 
Henry of Guise, to persuade King Francis and Queen 
Mary to proclaim themselves King and Queeu of 
England, to quarter the arms of England with those 
of Scotland and France, and to prepare to enforce 
their claim. Even a milder woman than Elizabeth 
would have resented bitterly this affront. To have 
her position as Queen of England menaced would 
have been enough, but to have it questioned on the 
ground of legitimacy of birth, to be branded as a 
bastard by the first court of continental Europe, was 
more than the hot blood of the Tudors could stand. 
She met the danger by stirring up revolt against Mary 
among the Protestants of Scotland. Of course this 
outbreak took on the religious form. The opposition 
to Mary took the name "reformers" and had as many 
Scotch preachers as knights in its forces. So much 
progress did the revolt make that Francis and Mary 
were fain to give up their pretensions to the English 
throne in consideration of being let alone in Scotland. 
The agreement was made, but Mary retained the 
English arms on her shield — a bit of girlish vanity 
that cost her a throne and her head. 



MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS 81 

Just at the moment the English situation was most 
acute Mary's kingly husband died. A chance thrust 
through the vizor of his helmet had slain his father. 
What killed the son? He was scant eighteen years 
old, physically perfect, mentally a good-humored 
booby. The stories of the time were that his mother, 
Catherine de Medici, had poisoned him. Evidence? 
None, except that the name of de Medici was already 
involved in a long list of cold-blooded murders. Cath- 
erine brooked no rival in power, and she would rather 
sacrifice her son than see the brilliant Mary Stuart 
the dominant force in France. 

Her husband gone, her French crown lost, nothing 
remained to Mary but to return to the land of her 
birth; to resume the crown her right to which had 
never been questioned. This she did, and for four 
years reigned peacefully. She was but eighteen years 
old when she returned to her throne, and became 
once again a pawn not merely of politics, but in the 
marriage market. 

Even to-day the marriages of royalty — made often 
without affection, sometimes without acquaintance — 
are the marvel of simple-minded folk. But in the 
middle of the sixteenth century, when Mary Queen 
of Scots lived and suffered, royal matrimony was a 
pure matter of politics. From Queen Elizabeth's 
point of view it was essential that Mary should marry 
no Frenchman, no one who would help her in designs 
against England or join in hostility to the Protestant 
party in Scotland. Such was the devotion of the 
"Virgin Queen" to these political convictions that she 
sent one of her cast-off lovers, Robert Dudley, to win 



82 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

the Scottish queen with propositions of marriage. 
Mary scoffed at the match and married her cousin, 
Robert Darnley, instead. After the brief ecstasy of 
the honeymoon Mary discovered her husband to be 
a "handsome fool." He, in turn, concluded that as 
the husband of a queen he should have the title of 
king. This he demanded, and she, with a keen knowl- 
edge of his defects and a strong will of her own, refused. 
Straightway he began to conspire with her enemies 
against her. The queen had a secretary, an Italian 
named Rizzio, whose official relations with her were 
naturally intimate. Darnley's new friends persuaded 
him that these relations were something more than 
those of a queen and a servitor, and with Darnley's 
covert acquiescence plotted Rizzio's death. The man, 
who seems to have been a coward, was dragged from 
behind the queen's skirts by a band of Darnley's fol- 
lowers, hustled into an adjoining room and there put 
to death by repeated sword thrusts. 

At first the news of the completed murder was kept 
from Mary. When she heard it, being herself no whit 
a coward, she said: "Farewell, tears! We must now 
think of revenge!" 

Revenge, or what seemed much like it, came slowly 
but remorselessly. A seeming reconciliation took 
place between Mary and her husband, though he con- 
tinued to demand the crown matrimonial and she to 
refuse it. Some two years after the Rizzio tragedy 
Darnley was lying ill in a wing of one of the royal 
residences called Kirk o ? Field, when a sudden and 
mysterious explosion of gunpowder blew the stone 
edifice to pieces and its bedridden tenant out into the 



MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS 83 

fields, where his body was found. The body showed 
no mutilation nor powder stains. History fails to 
show any direct participation of Mary in the affair, 
but the famous Earl of Bothwell, who had become her 
favorite and prime adviser, was certainly deeply con- 
cerned. A pretended abduction by Bothwell's men 
was followed by her marriage to the abductor three 
weeks after he divorced his wife. 

This was too much for the Scottish lords, long dis- 
contented and ever stirred to sedition by agents of 
Queen Elizabeth. They rose in organized revolt and 
besieged Bothwell's castle, whence the earl escaped 
by night, and Mary, in a suit of boy's clothing, a day 
or two later. Hastily mustering a royal army the two 
at first thought to give battle to the lords, but finding 
themselves outnumbered and outgeneraled, Bothwell 
fled and Mary surrendered. Thenceforth her life was 
one long record of imprisonment until death brought 
it to an end. 

Imprisoned first in Lochleven Castle, she was treated 
by the Puritan lords with a degree of brutality which 
seems incredible when one recalls that they professed 
to be waging a religious war. At one time offered 
her liberty in exchange for her honor, at another while 
still ill from having given premature birth to twins, 
the fruit of her brief life with Bothwell, she was forced 
by threats of assassination to abdicate her throne. 
Yet she was able through her natural gifts to win over 
to her aid useful friends within the castle. 

Nothing in history exceeds in romance the story 
of Mary's deliverance from imprisonment. The Laird 
of Lochleven sat at the head of his table where the 



84 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

wine and food were passing fast. The great gates of 
the castle were locked, and in a distant wing the cap- 
tive queen sat in solitude. At the laird's elbow lay 
the keys to all the stronghold. A sixteen-year-old 
boy, Willie Douglas, acting as page, came to serve 
the chieftain with more wine. The sight of the keys 
aroused his instant determination, and as with one 
hand he poured the draught into the waiting wine cup 
with the other he stole the precious keys. Perhaps 
there was too much wine and wassail that night. At 
any rate the laird awoke to find his prisoner fled. 
Willie Douglas had hastened her with one attendant 
out of the castle, locking the portcullis behind him 
and throwing the keys into the mouth of a cannon 
standing by. 

Events then moved swiftly and disastrously for 
Mary. Though she raised an army numerically 
superior to that which the hostile lords rallied against 
her, it was honeycombed with dissension among the 
leaders. So in the end Mary's army was cut to pieces 
by a vastly inferior force, and she became again a 
fugitive. It was at this time that, seeking to disguise 
herself, she shaved her head and donned that wig 
that years later struck with horror the people who 
witnessed her decapitation. 

One faint hope remained now to the deposed queen 
and those of her servitors who remained faithful to 
her — namely, to escape to France. This could be done 
most easily by crossing into England, provided the 
eagle eye of Elizabeth could be evaded. But hardly 
had she set foot on English soil when Mary was recog- 
nized, captured and locked up in the Castle of Carlisle. 



MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS 85 

Though she then made formal appeal to Elizabeth 
to be permitted to pass into France, permission was 
refused. The old claim of Mary to the English throne 
still rankled in the virgin queen's breast, and she 
determined to keep the claimant under lock and key. 

Then followed long years of imprisonment. Parlia- 
ment clamored for the life of the Scottish queen, at 
one time demanding it by a unanimous vote. But 
Elizabeth hesitated, some think because of womanly 
pity, more believe because she knew that the execution 
of Mary would arouse the wrath of all the Catholics 
in her kingdom. But the queen's hesitation was 
finally overcome by the detection of a plot for her own 
assassination, to which there was grave reason to 
believe Mary was a party. Elizabeth's chief adviser, 
Lord Walsingham, with or without the knowledge of 
the queen, set deliberately at work to lead Mary 
into some written utterance that would lay bare all 
the secrets of her intriguing mind. Through a brewer 
who supplied her private table with beer, he suggested 
to her a means of communicating with her friends. 
Letters were sent back and forth in the beer barrels, 
and Mary wrote with perilous frankness. But the 
brewer was a mere stool pigeon and turned over the 
correspondence to Walsingham. Finally a letter 
showed a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth, and 
Walsingham struck his final and fatal blow. 

Publication of the evidence threw England into an 
uproar. The conspirators were swiftly tried and 
executed, the chief, Babbington, suffering the bar- 
barous punishment of being hanged, drawn and quar- 
tered — that is, disemboweled while still alive. 



86 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

With seeming reluctance Elizabeth ordered Mary's 
trial for treason. The reluctance was assumed rather 
than real, but history must admit that Elizabeth had 
every reason to act and to act firmly. The trial was 
brief. Its verdict death. After eighteen years in 
prison it took but a few days to make an end of the 
Scottish queen. 

It was on a cold February morning that Mary, 
with the indifferent air of perfect courage, ascended 
the scaffold. She was robed in black, but on being 
told to remove her outer garments, displayed herself 
in an underrobe of bright scarlet. Dramatic to the 
last, she laid her head on the block without a word, 
and with the fall of the axe the career of one of his- 
tory's most expert intriguants ended. Even to-day 
historians vary in their estimate of her. She is painted 
as a martyr and a murderess, a crafty conspirator, and 
a simple-minded victim to the jealousy of Queen 
Elizabeth, Somewhere between the truth lies. 



LADY JANE GREY 

(1537-1554) 
A NINE DAYS' QUEEN 

THE royal records of England bear few stories 
of more pathos than that of Lady Jane Grey. 
An unloved child, offered at one time as a 
pledge for borrowed money, educated under 
the harshest system, made a puppet in a great 
game for the throne of England, married against 
her protest to an unloved husband, proclaimed queen 
for a nine days' reign, and finally sent to the heads- 
man's block — all these things befell Jane Grey, and her 
sunny head dropped into the basket when she was 
just seventeen years old. 

Perhaps the gamut of human life and human vicis- 
situdes was never in this world's history so swiftly 
run. 

The child for whom the future held so much of dire 
disaster was born in October, 1537. Her parents 
were noble. Her father, Henry Grey, was Marquis 
of Dorset; her mother was a granddaughter to King 
Henry VII and niece to Henry VIII. It was that 
drop or two of royal blood in her veins that brought 
her finally to the block. 

When Henry VIII, the king of many wives, died 
and in his will mentioned Jane Grey as one of those 

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88 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

entitled to the royal succession, ambition seized upon 
the Grey household. Then her education was begun 
in dead earnest, apparently with the view of fitting 
her to become the consort of the boy king, Edward 
VI. Her schooling seems to our modern ideas curious. 
But added to the arts of music and deportment and 
the accomplishment of modern languages there was 
forced upon the luckless child the study of Hebrew 
and Chaldee! Yet, from her own writing we learn 
that she did not find her school days irksome. "One 
of the greatest benefits God ever gave me," she wrote, 
"has been sharp and severe parents and a gentle school- 
master." 

Jane was both precocious and brilliant. When she 
was ten years old her talents and beauty resulted in 
the child's being called to court and attached to the 
person of the queen dowager. Here she made hosts 
of friends by her pretty face and girlish ways. She 
seems then to have been merely a normal child, fond 
of jewels, pretty clothes, and a good time. 

Very speedily she drifted away from her parents, 
Lord and Lady Dorset, who, in fact, practically deeded 
her over to Lord Seymour, husband of the queen dow- 
ager. Seymour was speculating on the possibility of 
marrying her to the boy king, Edward — a marriage 
which, historians agree, would have been politically 
wise, and would have saved England much strife and 
bloodshed in later days. But the plan fell through, 
and in the end Seymour went to the Tower and thence 
to the block — the normal end of constructive states- 
men in those days. 

Her guardian lost to her Lady Jane returned to her 



LADY JANE GREY 89 

father's house. Her retirement from court life, how- 
ever, was but brief. In 1551 her father, who had 
never shown any particular affection for her, was 
created Duke of Suffolk, and attached to the court. 
In the winsome, cultivated girl of fourteen years he 
saw a possible aid to his further advancement. For 
her he plotted nothing less than the winning of a throne, 
and was ready to barter her in marriage or to give 
her over as ward to any noble of high estate who 
might further this ambition. 

It happened that at this moment the Duke of North- 
umberland was the dominant power in the kingdom. 
He looked on Lady Jane and saw a girl of beauty, 
esprit and tact. She was a lineal descendant of 
Henry VII and her claim to the throne was made 
plausible at least by the act of Henry VIII, who, 
seeking new matrimonial adventures, had not scrupled 
to declare his daughters, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth, 
illegitimate. So Northumberland arranged a marriage 
between his son, Guilford, and Lady Jane. It was 
celebrated in the palace of King Edward VI with 
regal pomp and magnificence. 

Within seven weeks Edward was dead, after having 
signed a deed of settlement naming Lady Jane as heir 
to the throne. Edward's death left possession of the 
throne of England in controversy for the moment- 
All claimants to it were women; the late king's sisters, 
Mary Tudor, daughter of Katherine of Aragon, later 
known as "Bloody Mary," and Elizabeth, daughter 
of Anne Boleyn, could alone raise pretensions against 
Lady Jane. But these two had been explicitly declared 
illegitimate by their father, Henry VIII. Accordingly 



90 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Northumberland set about urging Lady Jane to accept 
the crown. To this she was much averse. In a letter 
showing wonderful foresight for one so young, and 
which in the light of the events that followed her 
coronation, seems uncannily prophetic, she said: 

"lam not so young nor so little read in the guiles 
of fortune as to suffer myself to be taken by them. 
. . . If I now permit her to adorn and crown me 
I must to-morrow suffer her to tear me in pieces. 
Nay, with what crown does she present me? A crown 
which hath been violently and shamefully wrested 
from Katherine of Aragon, made more unfortunate 
by the punishment of Anne Boleyn. . . . And 
why, then, would you have me add my blood to theirs; 
and be the blind victim from whom this fatal crown 
may be ravished, with the head that wears it?" 

But clear as was her foresight and right her position, 
she was overpersuaded by her ambitious relatives, 
and on July 10th was proclaimed queen in London's 
gray tower, which has seen many pomps of pride and 
more martyrdoms. 

Scarce a day had passed when the doleful predic- 
tions of Lady Jane began to be fulfilled. The friends 
of Mary Tudor, who had groomed her for the throne 
as assiduously — and as selfishly — as Northumberland 
had pressed Jane, prepared for war. Their armies 
grew rapidly; those of Northumberland rapidly wasted 
away. Like politicians of every day he swiftly de- 
serted the queen, whom he had lured from a satisfied 
privacy into a turbulent public position, and himself 
proclaimed Mary queen of England. Within a few 
hours Jane Grey was a prisoner in the Tower, to 
which she had come as a queen. 



LADY* JANE GREY 91 



It was a ruthless day and age, Mary, with pos- 
session of the throne and an army to aid her in holding 
it, might well have spared the child-wife, the nine 
days' queen whom she had consigned to London's 
grimmest stronghold. Instead she permitted Lady 
Jane and her boyish husband to be prosecuted for 
high treason. Both pleaded guilty and were sentenced 
to death. It is believed that Mary, cruel as her later 
career showed her to be, had no intention of permit- 
ting this sentence to be executed, but Jane's father, the 
Duke of Suffolk, who had been all his life a blunderer, 
entered into a plot against the queen which aroused her 
wrath and sent him as well as his daughter and son- 
in-law to the block. 

All the incidents surrounding the untimely death 
on the scaffold of this girl queen are inexpressibly 
pathetic, and at the same time indicative of the firm 
will and quiet dignity which she had attained through 
sore tribulation even at her early age. Lord Guilford 
had begged of Queen Mary the boon of seeing his wife 
ere he preceded her to the scaffold. But though the 
favor was granted by the queen it was refused by the 
wife. She wrote to Lord Guilford "that it was to be 
feared her presence would rather weaken than 
strengthen him; that he ought to take courage from 
his reason and derive Constance from his heart; that 
if his soul were not firm and settled she could not 
settle it by her eyes nor confirm it by her words, and 
that he would do well to remit the interview till they 
met in a better world, where friendships were happy 
and unions indissoluble, and theirs she hoped would be 
eternal." 



92 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

She saw her husband pass below her window on his 
way to execution. Waving him a mournful farewell 
she turned to complete her own death toilet. In the 
midst of this, glancing idly out of the window she saw 
his bleeding corpse being wheeled back from the block 
to the waiting grave. With this gruesome spectacle 
fresh in her mind the deposed queen made her own 
way to the spot where the headsman waited. Briefly 
she spoke to the people gathered; more briefly she 
begged the executioner to kill her quickly. Then 
with her eyes bandaged she groped about for the fatal 
block, crying piteously " Where is it? Where is it? 
Oh what shall I do?" At last, her head guided to its 
resting place, the axe fell, the slender neck was severed 
at the stroke and Lady Jane Grey had passed into the 
company of the ancestors who had given her those 
drops of royal blood which had proved her curse. 



QUEEN ANNE 

(1665-1744) 
THE COMMONPLACE QUEEN OF A MAJESTIC ERA 

PERHAPS too many Americans will associate 
the name of Queen Anne with a bizarre type 
of architecture which a few years ago covered 
our countryside with cottages of multitudinous 
gables, much jig-saw work ; and a uniform color scheme 
of garnet and old gold. Being as a rule flimsy, the 
cottages have disappeared; the more substantial me- 
morials of the reign of a queen of Great Britain and 
Ireland, who was truly fortunate in her contempo- 
raries, endure. 

The reign of Anne was one of the greatest in Eng- 
lish annals, though the queen herself was not great. 
But moving in the official circles of her time, or en- 
livening the coffee houses of London, were statesmen 
and soldiers as great as England ever knew, and 
essayists and wits unequalled in modern times. Sir 
Isaac Newton was director of the mint, John Locke 
commissioner of trade, and Joseph Addison a secre- 
tary of state. The first Duke of Marlborough won 
the battle of Blenheim in her time, and in return re- 
ceived his title, and the palace of Blenheim which in 
these later days it has fallen to the lot of a Vander- 
bilt heiress to restore to its bygone glories — the palace, 

(93) 



94 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

not the title. The latter she found beyond restora- 
tion. 

Dean Swift lived in the days of Anne, and wrote 
" Gulliver's Travels" as a satire on the temper of the 
times. The satire is forgotten, but the children, always 
good critics, have taken out the story in which it was 
enveloped and made it one of their favorite books. 
Then too Defoe lived and wrote "Robinson Crusoe" 
— perhaps the most widely read book ever written 
in the English tongue. The statesmen of Anne's day 
first cast him into prison, and then stood him in the 
pillory for writing what he believed; then elevated 
him to a place and a certain measure of power for 
writing what they thought but had not the wit to 
express. Pope was then penning his polished verses, 
and Dick Steele entertaining the town with his 
Tatler. It was one of the golden ages of English 
literature. 

Among this galaxy of genius Queen Anne reigned. 
"She was," says Goldwin Smith, a distinguished later 
historian of the British empire, "virtuous, well-mean- 
ing, good natured, dull, and weak, though obstinate 
when the fit was on her." Certainly she was not 
above the superstitions of the time. She "touched 
for the evil" — that is to say, she pretended to cure 
scrofula by laying on the sufferer the queenly hands. 
She tried it on Samuel Johnson, but without avail. 
Nor did that magic touch of health avail much in her 
own household. Seventeen children in all she bore 
to her husband — some prematurely — but in the end 
none lived to inherit her throne. History says that 
this was the fault rather of her husband, whom Gold- 



QUEEN ANNE 95 



win Smith describes as a "toper and a cypher/ ' than 
of the queen herself. 

At any rate the Duke of Marlborough became, in 
the absence of any king of force and vigor, the real 
power in the kingdom. The ministers of state were 
his creatures — even Lord Godolphin, who ranks high 
amidst English premiers. The wars prosecuted by 
Marlborough were in foreign lands, and like some 
later generals who aspired to high place, he had his 
corps of journalists to sound his praises. In those 
days the great general had to be a great diplomat 
as well. Marlborough was both. At home he had 
his wife, once Sarah Jennings — most plebeian name — 
hard at work influencing the queen. Abroad he dealt 
with the keenest minds of all Europe, and beating 
them in diplomacy, turned about and demolished 
those he could not cajole, in war. The battle of Blen- 
heim ended French domination in Europe until Na- 
poleon re-established it. When Marlborough came 
home full of honors Addison, in resounding phrase, 
described him thus: " Rides on the whirlwind and 
directs the storm." 

Unlike the great Elizabeth, or even Mary Tudor, 
it does not appear that Queen Anne took any cogni- 
zance of the campaigns of the English armies on the 
continent. All was left to Marlborough, who was 
furnished with vagrants, jail birds and felons to fill 
his ranks. That he made good fighting men out of 
this timber speaks well for his ability as a disciplin- 
arian. While he was building up the army and winning 
his battles Queen Anne was sitting supine at home, 
accepting the advice of her ministers or quarreling 



96 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

with the Duchess of Marlborough, who insisted on 
being in court while her militant husband was in the 
field. As for the queen, she was famous most for the 
pleasures of the table. Indeed, behind her back the 
courtiers called her "Brandy Nan," because of her 
potations. During her days as a princess some writer 
of epigrams hit off the royal family thus: 

King William t hinks all; 
Queen Mary talks all; 
Prince George drinks all; 
And Princess Anne eats all. 

Notwithstanding the ridicule of many of her con- 
temporaries, her essential qualities of good faith and 
womanliness are recognized by posterity. She was 
called "Good Queen Anne" and deserved the adjec- 
tive, though perhaps as applied to queens it is a little 
like the term "good hearted," which always seems to 
attach to a commonplace individual. 
' And yet after all Anne was commonplace. Her 
era was glorious; her ministers and generals were 
great, but you may thrash over as you will the records 
of her time without finding that she was in any sense 
the animating force. Personally she was a weak wo- 
man, fond of flattery, apt to be governed by some 
female favorite, dominated by her prejudices, and 
wholly without such personal conviction as would 
make her a great figure in the time in which she lived. 
That was the beginning of the new democracy in Eng- 
land, but in building up the House of Commons and 
in developing parliamentary government she took no 
part. Her power was as flimsy as the cottage archi- 
tecture to which her name has been lent. But the 



QUEEN ANNE 97 



power of her ministers was so supreme, their ability 
so great and so wholly exerted on the side of a new 
and stronger democracy in England that what was 
accomplished in her reign justifies the title she bears 
of "Good Queen Anne." 

Anne was born to a great era, exactly as she was 
born to wear a crown. She neither made, honored 
nor disgraced that era. If she knew the great figures 
in literature that honored it, history does not so state. 
The records tell of Queen Elizabeth treading a measure 
with wild "Will" Shakespeare, but that Queen Anne 
ever knew Addison, Swift, Steele or Defoe is not 
recorded. Yet they flourished in her time and, bar- 
ring the debtors' jail for Steele and the pillory for 
Defoe, throve. 

When the time came for her to die her physician, 
Dr. Arbuthnot, declared that no wearied traveler could 
have longed more for rest than she in her later years 
had longed for the end of her life. We may well be- 
lieve it. As a mother she had seen such of her chil- 
dren as came into the world alive pass quickly out 
of it. As a queen, though applauded and upheld by 
the people, she was unable to impress herself upon 
the government. England was going too fast toward 
democracy for her, and perhaps the best thing to say 
about "Good Queen Anne" is that she did not one 
thing to retard that progress. 



QUEEN ELIZABETH 

(1533-1603) 

"good qxjeen bess"; the virgin queen 

IN phrase and fable Queen Elizabeth is known as 
"Good Queen Bess" and as "The Virgin Queen." 
Our own state of Virginia was named after her 
supposed possession of the latter virtue by Sir 
Walter Raleigh. But historians are disinclined to 
allow her either of the qualities of * womanhood ex- 
pressed in these adjectives. 

It is by no means wonderful that Queen Elizabeth 
developed into a cold, calculating, cruel and surpass- 
ingly able ruler of England. Consider her parentage. 
Henry VIII, an able monarch but a cold husband, 
divorced her mother, Anne Boleyn, and sent her to 
the scaffold. The divorce was intended to make 
Elizabeth ineligible to the throne. Henry desired an 
heir and finally got one in the person of Edward VI. 
Elizabeth was born at Greenwich Palace, September 
7, 1533. Her birth, because of her sex, awakened in 
the king the most furious wrath against the hapless 
mother. But years after Henry's death the daughter 
whom he scorned succeeded to the throne and gave 
to England an administration hardly exceeded in bril- 
liancy up to the present day. And yet Elizabeth 
never reigned by right of birth. Henry's divorce of 

(98) 



QUEEN ELIZABETH 99 

her mother made her illegitimate, and it was upon 
this purely technical illegitimacy that Mary Queen of 
Scots based her claim to the throne — and so claiming 
it lost her head. But by act of Parliament, confirmed 
finally by Henry's will, Elizabeth was declared con- 
tingent heir to the throne, to succeed Edward VI 
and Mary Tudor, should both die without issue. The 
really unexpected happened. The reigns of both 
Edward and Mary were brief. Neither left a suc- 
cessor and in 1558 the girl whom Henry had almost 
cursed at birth ascended the throne amid the plaudits 
of practically the whole nation. Elizabeth had been 
well educated for the station to which she had been 
called. She was reared in the household of Queen 
Catherine Parr, the only one of King Henry's wives 
to survive him. Of course, like every girl child with 
even a remote claim to the throne, Elizabeth had to 
encounter the schemes of men desirous of making her 
marriage serve their own political ends. Most serious 
of these was Lord Seymour, who had married Queen 
Catherine before the funeral baked meats of Henry 
VHFs obsequies were cold enough to set forth at a 
marriage supper. In all essentials Seymour held to 
her the position of a stepfather, yet with his wife still 
living he pressed on the girl the attentions of a lover 
and a would-be husband. That Elizabeth was im- 
pressed with his devotion seems certain. He was 
thirty years her senior, married to the woman to whom 
she owed her early education, a crafty, plotting politi- 
cian, yet withal the girl of scant fifteen fell in love with 
him. How far her infatuation led her the history 
which is accessible to most readers does not say. 



100 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

However, Seymour — a ne'er-do-well if ever there was 
one — got himself into trouble and while trying him 
for one offence his inquisitors took occasion to investi- 
gate his relations with Elizabeth. She for her part 
showed singular acumen in self-defence, but while 
she emerged from the ordeal unscathed, if not wholly 
untarnished, she found it advisable to go into retire- 
ment for some time. The Seymour affair undoubtedly 
left a lasting impression on Elizabeth's mind. He 
was the first man she ever loved. 

Not the only man, however. The episodes in her 
life were many, for first as heir apparent and finally 
as Queen of England, the hands of many monarchs 
and great nobles were extended to her. But her grand 
passion was one of those extraordinary and inexplic- 
able infatuations which sometimes seize upon women. 
The object of this passion was the Duke d'Alengon, 
brother of Charles IX of France, and the youngest 
son of Catherine de Medici. That astute woman, 
after failing to interest Elizabeth in her elder son, the 
Duke of Anjou, set about negotiating a marriage for 
the younger. The time was scarcely propitious. 
Elizabeth reigned over England as the great Protestant 
monarch of the day. All that her imm ediate prede- 
cessor, "Bloody Mary" Tudor, had done to estab- 
lish Catholicism in England, she had undone. Yet 
the French ambassador, bearing the proposals from 
Catherine de Medici, arrived at the English court 
almost simultaneously with the news of the massacre 
of St. Bartholomew, plotted and executed by Cath- 
erine de Medici and Charles IX. 

If the moment of presenting the tender propositions 



QUEEN ELIZABETH 101 

of the Due d'Alengon seemed unfortunate, what is 
to be said of the personal qualities he brought for 
her captivation? The Queen was forty* He had 
youth — was barely past twenty — but aside from that 
presented a revolting combination of deformities and 
blemishes. In stature he was a dwarf; in face he 
was hideous. Smallpox in early youth had stunted 
and deformed his body, while putting its ineradicable 
stamp upon his face. As if this were not enough, 
some other evil had divided his nose in revolting 
fashion. His enemies, who were many, referred to 
his double nose as a fit emblem of double-facedness. 
For the rest, he was a debauchee, a man without 
political or religious principles, posing now as a devout 
Roman Catholic and then as a leader and protector 
of the Huguenots in France. 

Still Elizabeth loved him. For twelve long years 
she kept him dangling at her skirts, granting him 
every recognition except that of marriage. She petted 
him openly, kissed him on the lips in the presence of 
the French ambassador, and called him her "petite 
grenouille," or little frog, from the fact that his dis- 
torted body and mottled greenish face gave the air 
of a fat frog when he sank into a chair. In the 
archives at Hatfield are a hundred or more letters 
from the "Good Queen Bess" to this misshapen mass 
of mortality which are said to outdo any records of 
the modern breach of promise courts. 

For the first twenty years of Elizabeth's rule her 
chief occupation was the consideration of the political 
effect of suggested marriages. One after another the 
great figures of Europe offered her their hands in 



102 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

marriage, but she lived to her seventieth year and 
rounded out forty-five years as a monarch without 
marriage. Perhaps she loved. Certainly she some- 
times showed mad jealousy and vanity. It is said 
that the journey of Essex to the block was expedited 
by his remark in a moment of wrath, "Her mind is 
as crooked as her body." 

Nevertheless when we look back upon the various 
marriages planned for Elizabeth we are compelled to 
concede that whatever her cause for rejecting them, 
the outcome was good for England. Philip of Spain, 
widower of Mary Tudor, offered his hand before his 
wife's entombment was fairly finished. But Philip was 
an ardent Catholic and would have alienated the 
English Protestants. Then followed Robert Dudley, 
whom Elizabeth created Earl of Leicester and for whom 
she showed marked affection. But between Leicester 
and Elizabeth the shadow of an unexplained tragedy 
intervened. His lawful wife, Amy Robsart, died in 
a lonely country mansion whither he had sent her in 
charge of a servant whose reputation was none of the 
best. Public clamor was loud against the husband, 
but Elizabeth protected him, though their marriage 
was by that event made impossible. 

The long episode with the Due d'Alengon seems to 
have been but one of those flirtations with which a 
queen, debarred physically or politically from mar- 
riage, amused herself. When Parliament formally 
besought her to take a mate and raise heirs to the 
throne, she responded that her coronation was her 
marriage; the English people were the sole objects 
of her affection; that she would have no other spouse, 



QUEEN ELIZABETH 103 



but desired her epitaph to be, "Here lies a queen 
who lived and died a virgin." 

Whether Elizabeth was in fact a cold and cruel queen, 
or rather a great monarch forced by circumstances 
to commit deeds that savored of cruelty, will always 
be a matter of debate. One historian has aptly said, 
"She has gone down in history as 'Good Queen Bess,' 
not because she was a good woman, but because she 
was a great queen." 

Put briefly, these were the problems of her reign: 

1. The restoration of Protestantism without unduly 
estranging her Catholic subjects. 

2. The nineteen years' struggle with the partisans 
of Mary Queen of Scots. 

3. The repulse of the Spanish endeavor to conquer 
England and make of it a Catholic country. 

4. The avoidance of entangling alliances with foreign 
nations. 

A concise account of the treatment of Mary Queen 
of Scots will be found in the chapter on that un- 
fortunate queen. It is fair to say that in this matter 
— one of the gravest which confronted Elizabeth — she 
acted with patience and forbearance. With parlia- 
ment and the people demanding Mary's life, she 
stayed their wrath for nineteen long years, and at 
last consented to her execution only after long hesi- 
tation. In this connection she played a bit of politics 
characteristic of her. While signing the warrant for 
Mary's execution she did not seal it, and after the 
hapless head had fallen, declared she had never in- 
tended that the warrant should be enforced. Her 
luckless secretary Davison, who sealed the warrant 



104 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

as a matter of course, she persecuted to the point of 
beggary, calling the while on Heaven to witness that 
she had not devised the death of her cousin. The 
exhibition of wrath and amazement would have been 
more impressive had she not done precisely the same 
thing in the case of the Duke of Norfolk, also beheaded 
by royal warrant. 

In one respect Elizabeth was admirably fitted to 
cope with the religious warfare of the time — which 
was not religious but merely political. She was utterly 
destitute of religious sense or conviction. For the 
doctrines of Rome she had neither respect nor affec- 
tion, naturally since the Pope openly entered into 
the conspiracies to dethrone her. For the Protestants 
she cared little more, though she sent an army into 
Scotland to aid the " reformers " who were sacking 
and burning monasteries and churches, killing "pap- 
ists" and generally deporting themselves in the same 
way that the Catholics had under the reign of "Bloody 
Mary." 

After3he execution of Mary Queen of Scots, Eng- 
land was confronted with its first serious menace of 
invasion for many decades. Philip, King of Spain, 
swore vengeance for the slaying of the Catholic queen 
and began the creation of a great fleet wherewith to 
subjugate England. More than chivalric wrath ani- 
mated the Spanish monarch. The crown of England 
was a rich prize for which Spanish rulers had been 
plotting for years, though hitherto they had sought 
to gain it rather through the gentle device of marrying 
some English queen or princess than in the rude clash 
of war. But Spain was now in fighting mood. For 



QUEEN ELIZABETH 105 

years the English admirals Drake, Raleigh and others, 
had harried Spanish shipping on the high seas without 
shadow of right, plundering and burning treasure gal- 
leons and playing the part of pirates as indeed they 
were. 

Accordingly Philip began the creation of what was 
known at the time as "the invincible Armada" — 
though the event showed it far from invincible. In 
all he gathered a fleet of 119 vessels mounting not 
less than 2,000 great guns, 10,000 soldiers, 8,000 sailors 
and 2,000 slaves. It was the greatest fleet ever as- 
sembled up to that time and the work of building the 
ships, collecting the munitions of war and enlisting 
troops and crews was a matter of years. This work 
was notably impeded by the dashing Drake, who, 
though the countries were nominally at peace, made 
a descent upon Cadiz, burnt one hundred ships and 
destroyed or carried away vast quantities of stores. 
England was affrighted as never before, and never 
since, except at the time of the apprehended invasion 
by Napoleon. From the far-off West Indies cruisers 
were recalled and all male subjects between sixteen 
and sixty years of age were called into service. 

At the moment the English navy was at low ebb — 
only thirty-four ships flying the royal ensign. But in 
personnel, dash and efficiency it was never better. 
The English officers of the highest rank fought and 
worked beside the blue-jackets. "I should like to 
see the gentleman that will refuse to set his hand to 
a rope/' cried Drake one day in a passion. "I must 
have the gentlemen to hale and draw with the mar- 
iners." The merchants of England contributed ships 



106 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

and money lavishly, the city of London alone furnish- 
ing twice the number of ships and men called for. 

When the hostile fleets met in the channel the Eng- 
lish had 197 ships to the Spaniards' 132, though the 
tonnage of the latter exceeded that of the English 
almost two to one. This is not the place to tell the 
stirring story of the swift defeat of the Armada; enough 
to say that it was cut to pieces by the English in the 
first day of meeting and annihilated by stormy weather 
following. 

The latter years of Elizabeth's reign were hardly 
glorious, perhaps because no opportunity for glory 
offered itself with Spain crushed. Always of a coarse 
and belligerent disposition, age made her quarrelsome 
and violent. Her favorite and the wisest of her later 
advisers, Lord Essex, having failed in due formal 
respect to her, she boxed his ears, berated him like a 
fishwife and drove him from court. When he fool- 
ishly sought to retrieve his fortunes with an abortive 
revolt she turned him over to the headsman with as 
little compunction as though he had never been the 
most favored of her courtiers. 

Age too increased the vanity which had always 
been her dominant characteristic. The spectacle of 
the queen at seventy capering in exaggerated ruff and 
wide starched skirts before a slyly laughing court did 
not inspire respect. Yet it was in these years that 
Shakespeare, Spenser and Bacon thrived under her 
patronage and English voyagers pushed their way 
into unknown seas at her incentive. 

Queen to the last, her dying thoughts turned to her 
successor, for she had no direct heir. Though scarce 



QUEEN ELIZABETH 107 

able to speak, she indicated by signs to those who 
questioned her the will that King James of Scotland, 
son of the very Queen of Scots whom she had put to 
death, should reign when she was gone. Was this 
perhaps a belated effort to make peace with eternity 
for what may have been a cruel and a grievous wrong? 
; She was long dying, and for days together sat in a 
chair, her finger upon her lips and her eyes fixed on 
vacancy. For some reason of a disordered mind she 
called for a sword to be placed beside her and thrust 
it from time to time into the vacant air as though she 
saw assassins surrounding her. One of her foremost 
courtiers told her that she must go to bed. A flash 
of her old queenly haughtiness came over her. ( ( Must V y 
she exclaimed. "Is 'must' a word to be addressed to 
princes? Little man, little man! thy father if he had 
been alive durst not have used that word." This 
was the last assertion of that spirit at once haughty 
and frivolous, now proud and then ready to trifle with 
the lightest of the men who flocked about her. 

It was on March 23, 1603, that Elizabeth passed 
away. She had reigned forty-five years, a reign 
exceeded in length by those of but three English 
sovereigns, of whom Queen Victoria was one. His- 
torians differ in the estimates they put upon her char- 
acter. But history, which is greater than those who 
write it, records indelibly that her reign made England 
instead of Spain the great world power. 



CATHERINE II OF RUSSIA 

(1729-1796) 
THE SEMIRAMIS OF THE NORTH 

A WOMAN whom all the world concedes to have 
been a great ruler, an inspired empress, and 
- whom the same world believes to have been 
the cold-blooded murderess of her husband. 
An empress whose bodily licentiousness was reminis- 
cent of the Roman rulers in the days of the empire's 
darkest decadence, but a mother who found pleasure 
in writing moral tales and allegories for the edification 
of her grandchildren. A ruler who planned for Russia 
all sorts of internal improvements — canals, schools, 
roads, towns — and then seized the money and the men 
necessary to their accomplishment and employed them 
in endless wars. A wife who hated her husband and 
probably plotted his death; and an imperial wanton 
who enormously enriched an endless succession of 
lovers. A lawmaker who prepared an excellent code 
for the government of her realm and visited severe 
penalties upon the deputies who took it seriously and 
wished to give it effect. A woman of mild and equable 
temper and noble and dignified carriage, who permitted 
her favorites and their favorites and parasites to be 
continually guilty of the most execrable crimes of 
graft, violence, cruelty and rapine. A militant mon- 

(108) 



CATHERINE II OF RUSSIA 109 



arch, a Semiramis of the North, always at war and 
invariably conquering, yet who had time to write 
plays and compose spectacles in glorification of the 
genius and the greatness of Russia. 

That is a composite picture of the Empress Cath- 
erine of Russia, who worthily filled the throne of 
Peter the Great and extended by the sword the domin- 
ions he had left. The picture is feeble and incomplete. 
She was a great woman, not a good one — yet she fell 
short of goodness only, or at any rate chiefly, in her 
utter lack of that one feminine virtue which modern 
morality holds to be the foundation of all womanly 
worth. "She had two passions," said the anonymous 
writer of "The Secret Memoirs of the Court of St. 
Petersburg," "which never left her — the love of man 
which degenerated into licentiousness, and the love of 
glory which sunk into vanity." 

The woman who held oriental riot on the throne 
of Russia was by birth a German, sprung of that race 
which we think phlegmatic and unimaginative. She 
was the daughter of the Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, and 
was originally named Sophia Augusta Frederica, but 
this assortment of names did not suffice her. In 1744, 
being then fifteen, she went to St. Petersburg to be 
betrothed to the Grand Duke Peter, nephew of the 
Empress Elizabeth and her recognized heir, and was 
there received into the Greek Church under the name 
of Catherine Alexeyevna. 

The prince to whom this sixteen-year-old fraulein 
was wedded was heir to the throne of Russia. He 
was also heir to a mean and contentious disposition 
and a weak mind. To these pleasing heritages the 



110 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

smallpox had added a repulsive appearance, and his 
own filthy and degraded habits made him wholly 
loathsome. Worthless as a man, he was futile as a 
monarch. In a day of endless war he looked upon 
the army as a mere plaything and would have the 
cannon roar for his entertainment when his slender 
intellect could not comprehend the plan of a battle. 

Naturally in this marriage there was no pretense 
of affection. Each of the parties went his or her own 
way — and each found consolers. In the most drunken 
and dissolute court of Europe the archduchess was 
only too speedily initiated into the manners and morals 
of the moment. Her liaisons were open and notorious, 
and when after ten years of marriage her first child, 
a son, was bom, its illegitimacy was never doubted 
until with years he showed so unmistakably the vicious 
traits of Peter that his paternity was no longer ques- 
tioned. 

Living in this court of misrule, this riot of sensual- 
ism and debauchery, Catherine began while still a 
princess to manifest that singular dual character that 
made her life a series of contrasts. In her Memoirs 
she said that on leaving home for St. Petersburg she 
had determined to do everything and believe — or pre- 
tend to believe — everything necessary to ingratiate 
herself with the Russian people and fit her for the 
crown. To this determination she rigidly adhered. 
Furthermore, she strove to develop and discipline her 
mind, reading Plutarch, Tacitus, Montaigne, Voltaire 
and other books which might open vistas of import- 
ance to a future ruler. She trod a devious path in 
those days. Wife as she was to the heir apparent, 



CATHERINE II OF RUSSIA 111 

a false step might have led her to the dungeon beneath 
the Neva's tides, the lonely convent amidst perpetual 
snows or the scaffold itself. But with consummate 
tact she guarded her steps, making friends and gaining 
in maturity and political sagacity as the years rolled 
by, until even her husband came to recognize her 
ability and to consult her as to such affairs of state 
as he considered in the intervals between his debauches. 
"Mme. Resource," he called her, or "Mme. Quick 
Wit." Nevertheless, he both hated and dreaded her, 
and never more so than on January 5, 1762, when 
the Empress Elizabeth died and he and his wife be- 
came Emperor and Empress of Russia. 

The joint rule of the two sovereigns was brief enough, 
though Peter began his reign by some laudable meas- 
ures, such as freeing state prisoners, recalling exiles 
from Siberia and attempting to recover for the use 
of the people the vast expanses of rich land held by 
the Greek Church. But his personal habits laid him 
wide open to the assaults of his enemies. M. Bret- 
teuil, the French minister, wrote of him at this time: 
"The life of the emperor is most shameful. He passes 
his nights smoking and drinking beer, and does not 
relax these two exercises until 5 or 6 o'clock in the 
morning, and is nearly always dead drunk." His lov- 
ing wife, who gave him quite as much affection as he 
gave her, had been for years building up a personal 
party of her own about the court and in the army 
to overthrow him when he should come to the throne. 
This was made the more easy by his contempt for all 
things Russian and admiration for the Germans. 
Frederick the Great was his idol, and a war which 



112 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Russia was successfully prosecuting against that mon- 
arch was promptly stopped by Peter on his accession. 
His ideals, such as he had, were German and his chosen 
companions Holsteiners. It is curious that the Ger- 
man Catherine became more Russian than the Rus- 
sians, and thereby won their adoration, while Peter, 
descendant of Peter the Great scorned his country 
and aped the Germans. 

It was in April that Peter and Catherine ascended 
the throne. In July, the emperor being away from 
the capital with a body of his Holsteiners, the empress 
fired the fuse she had so long prepared. In two hours 
the army, the court and the civil officials had declared 
for her. Peter at first thought, with drunken flip- 
pancy, to laugh the matter off, but learning that the 
empress, with 20,000 men, was marching on his retreat 
at Oranienbaum, he abdicated. The sole condition 
that he exacted was that he should be allowed to end 
his days in his beloved Holstein. Foolish and fatuous 
Peter! For this refuge he started, indeed, with a 
guard of honor composed of Catherine's trusted ser- 
vitors, but at a little town called Ropsha he died sud- 
denly of " colic' ' — a bodily derangement the symptoms 
of which closely resemble those of certain poisons. 
It is fair to say that had not fate thus kindly rid 
Catherine of Peter, she would have been herself the 
one to go, for after his death it was learned that he 
was preparing to immure her for life in one of those 
dungeons in which a life sentence seldom endures 
many months. 

The material achievements of Catherine's long reign 
are perhaps best summed up in her phrase: "I came 



CATHERINE II OF RUSSIA 113 

to Russia a poor girl and Russia has dowered me 
richly. But I have paid her back with Azof, the 
Crimea and the Ukraine." Under her the march of 
Russia to the sea progressed more rapidly than under 
any monarch, and the long sought prize of Constanti- 
nople was nearer to her grasp in 1770 than to her 
grandson in 1858, when it required the armies of a 
United Europe to beat him back. Always her troops 
were on the move southward and always, too, the 
conscription was in force, sweeping the farms and 
workshops of their available men to make food for 
grapeshot and canister, and co-operating with the tax- 
gatherer to reduce the populace of Russia to the con- 
dition of abject penury from which it has not yet 
recovered. 

Yet Catherine had her dreams of the triumphs of 
peace. She planned great cities, but save for those 
which sprung up on the harbors of the Black Sea 
after Russia had won her way thither none was built. 
Joseph II of Austria shrewdly observed after laying 
with great pomp the second stone of a proposed city 
in Tauris, the empress having laid the first: "I have 
finished in a single day a very important business with 
the Empress of Russia; she has laid the first stone 
of a city and I have laid the last." The very site of 
the city is now unknown. 

Medals were struck in honor of cities planned but 
never built. The explanation of that was simple. 
Architects and builders pocketed the money furnished 
them and did no building. The medal was struck and 
presented to Catherine, who accepted it as evidence 
of the existence of a new town, and added it to the 



114 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

collection to which she proudly pointed as evidence 
of her labors in developing her realm. At one time 
the St. Petersburg Almanac contained a list of 240 
towns founded by Catherine, some of which were 
merely stakes driven into the ground bearing the 
name of the phantom city. 

Upon the graft with which the administration of 
Russia was permeated Catherine looked with a singu- 
larly tolerant eye. Indeed, when still archduchess 
she was a party to a most execrable deal by which 
one of her lovers, commanding an army in the field, 
accepted a bribe from the enemy, Frederick the Great, 
in consideration of his failing to push a victorious 
campaign for the Russians. In the Russian army 
the regiment was the unit; its colonel was supreme. 
To him was paid all money for subsistence, uniforms 
and munitions. Most of the colonels pocketed the 
money and quartered the troops on the unhappy 
people of the countryside. In conversation some one 
deplored the poverty of a soldier who was an acquaint- 
ance of the empress. "He ought not to be poor," 
said she in the most matter of fact way. "He has 
had a regiment for many years." When a court para- 
site with a salary of $200 a year built around the palace 
a number of houses valued at more than $60,000 each 
the empress merely thanked him for thus beautifying 
her capital. Every high official sold his signature and 
every favorite his influence, while his relatives, valets 
and hangers-on robbed right and left, protected by 
his power at court. 

The list of the favorites of the empress is impres- 
sive — or disgusting. A work of admitted authority 



CATHERINE II OF RUSSIA 115 

names twelve and estimates that not less than $60,- 
000,000 of the public wealth was squandered upon 
them by their imperial mistress, while no possible 
estimate can be made of the amounts they gathered 
in by various devices of graft. Some of these favorites 
developed personal ability and made valuable execu- 
tives. Two were even strong enough to dominate 
their imperial mistress. 

Unlike some other historic women of like tastes, 
Catherine never showed any resentment against the 
favorite who wearied of her or persecuted in any way 
those whom she dismissed. Korkasoff, whom she 
elevated from the ranks of one of her regiments to be 
her lover, she surprised in the arms of one of her ladies 
in waiting. She merely dismissed the pair from her 
service and would never see them again. Messalina 
or Agrippina would have had them thrown to the 
lions. Morronof, whom Catherine loved when she 
was sixty, fell in love with the young Princess Scher- 
batoff and boldly avowed it to his aged mistress. 
Without reproaches Catherine smoothed the way for 
his marriage to his sweetheart and sent the couple to 
Moscow loaded with presents. 

Among her earliest favorites was Stanislaus Ponia- 
towski, with whom she was infatuated while still 
archduchess. Him she made King of Poland, in which 
place he demonstrated that one may be a most pleas- 
ing squire of dames without possessing the slightest 
attribute of political sense or executive ability. Greg- 
ory Orloff, who succeeded him, maintained his associa- 
tion with the empress for twelve years. He was one 
of the favorites who ruled the empress. Haughty 



116 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

and firm by nature, he was, during his regime, the 
veritable czar. But in time he gave way to the even 
haughtier Potemkin and died a raving maniac. It 
is alleged that his successful rival poisoned him with 
an herb, somewhat like the "loco weed" of our west- 
ern plains, which possesses the quality of turning 
the brain and which the Russians call " drunkards' 
plant." 

Potemkin, who succeeded, was really a man of high 
abilities and force of character, notwithstanding the 
contemptible means he chose to secure his advance- 
ment. Moreover, he really loved his august mistress 
and was faithful to her until death. Magnificent alike 
in person, in pleasures and in extravagance, he dazzled 
the oriental mind of the Russians, who admired him 
even as he plundered them. "There is something 
barbarously romantic in his character," said the Prince 
de Ligne. His death resulted from defying his physician 
and eating voraciously of salt meat and raw turnips, 
washed down with hot wines and vodka — a menu 
which expresses the idea of refined eating in the 
Russia of that day. 

It is almost incredible that the woman who thus 
flagrantly violated every principle of decency should 
have been in her daily walk and conversation dignified 
without haughtiness, calm, mild and queenly. In her 
court was none of the ridiculous red tape which at the 
very moment characterized the court of France, but 
there was no lack of reverence for the sovereign. If 
she took her pleasures madly, she took her work 
seriously. What her armies were doing was known to 
her each day, and her voice was incessantly calling 



CATHERINE II OF RUSSIA 117 

upon her generals to press on. She carried the Rus- 
sian frontier to the Black Sea. With Frederick the 
Great and Maria Theresa of Austria she overwhelmed 
Poland, taking the greater part of it for herself. At 
the very threshold of her unexpected death she was 
planning war upon almost all Europe — Constantinople 
and Stockholm, Paris and Teheran were to be hers. 
And she had so instilled into the minds of her people 
confidence in the destiny of Russia and the martial 
valor of its armies, that none can tell what the out- 
come of such a plan of conquest might have been. 

Death came to her suddenly and mysteriously. 
Found lying in a stupor in an anteroom to her chamber, 
she died in a few hours without regaining the power 
of speech. She was succeeded by her son Paul, whom 
in violation of Russian law she had kept from the 
throne ever since he attained his majority — or more 
than twenty years. Well had it been for Paul had 
he been barred longer from that fatal eminence, for 
after a five years' reign he was strangled by a band 
of conspirators, one of whom was Zuboff, the last and 
perhaps the most infamous of all the lovers who had 
preyed on his imperial mother and her beloved Russia. 



QUEEN CHRISTINA OF SWEDEN 

(1626-1689) 
A ROYAL WANDERER IN EUROPE 

IN the first half of the seventeenth century Sweden 
was esteemed one of the great powers of Europe. 
Her armies under the leadership of King Gustavus 
Adolphus were invincible in the field, and after 
his lamentable death on the-hard-fought field of Lut- 
zen, the record of success was continued throughout 
the Thirty Years' War by the able generals he had 
trained. "The Lion of the North" was the proud 
title won by Gustavus Adolphus in his campaigns, and 
in history he ranks with such great captains as Na- 
poleon and Frederick the Great. But the full fruits 
of his valor and victories were not reaped by his 
country, but were largely dissipated by the eccentric 
daughter he left to inherit his throne. 

The daughter of the lion might herself have been 
a lioness, for she had many qualities of greatness, 
had not some queer and unexplained quirk in her 
brain made her later career futile and even contempt- 
ible. 

Her sex was a sore disappointment to her mother, 
who had been assured by all the soothsayers and wise 
women about the court that the child would be a boy. 
The father, however, was more philosophical. "She 

(118) 



QUEEN CHRISTINA OF SWEDEN 119 

will be a clever girl/' said he. "She has already 
deceived all of us." Of her mother Christina wrote: 
"She could not bear to see me, because she said I was 
a girl and ugly to boot and rightly enough for I was 
tawny as a little Moor." 

In the Queen Christina of later days the dominant 
characteristic was her extreme masculinity. Perhaps 
the harsh welcome to this world that her sex wrung 
from her mother had something to do with this. More' 
probably, however, it resulted from the studied effort 
of her father to give her the education of a prince 
rather than a princess. When only an infant, accom- 
panying her father as usual on one of his journeys, 
they came to a fortress. The governor hesitated to 
fire the customary salute to the king lest the thunder 
of the cannon should frighten the child into convul- 
sions. After a moment's hesitation Gustavus cried 
out: "Fire! She is a soldier's daughter and must 
learn to bear it." To his great delight the baby 
instead of showing fear, laughed and leaped in his 
arms clapping her hands. Thereafter his determina- 
tion to give her a masculine education was fixed. He 
succeeded so well that toward the end of her life 
she said that her one regret was never to have wit- 
nessed a battle, nor seen human blood flow. She did, 
however, see it flow once when one of her lovers was 
foully murdered by her own commands in her pres- 
ence. 

When the child was four years old the king took 
the field at the head of the allied armies against Fer- 
dinand, Emperor of Austria. Before going he made 
every provision for the stability of his kingdom and 



120 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

the future of his daughter. Christina was acknowl- 
edged as his successor by the states general and the 
army. A regency headed by the famous Chancellor 
Oxenstiern was created to govern the kingdom should 
the king die while his daughter was still a minor, and 
a body of distinguished scholars were chosen to be 
her tutors. Two years later the king fell, fighting 
bravely, and in the very moment of victory at Lutzen. 

The Princess Christina was, at the time of her father's 
death, about seven years old. Straightway the ma- 
chinery which Gustavus had created for the preser- 
vation of order in Sweden began to work. The young 
queen was crowned before a diet, or council, called by 
the regents. With all her excessive masculinity in 
later days, she did not lack a certain feminine love of 
adulation. "I still remember/' she said, "how en- 
chanted I was to see all these men at my feet kissing 
my hand." 

During the period of her education the industry 
and concentration of Christina challenge belief. She 
worked with her tutors twelve hours daily; learned 
to read and even speak colloquially Greek, Latin and 
the principal modern languages. She rode and shot. 
Everything that a man could do in the field of learn- 
ing or of sport she mastered. Loving men, as she said, 
"not because they were men, but because they were 
not women," she grew up without feminine graces or 
charm; self-willed, impatient and arrogant. 

Of her mother she saw practically nothing. That 
lady was engrossed in mourning her husband in a 
most remarkable way. His heart she had taken from 
his body and placed in a golden receptacle which she 



QUEEN CHRISTINA OF SWEDEN 1 21 

ever kept by her. Her days were spent in a room 
ceiled, walled and hung in black, with the light shut 
out by like sombre drapings at the windows. In this 
cave of gloom she was supposed to meditate on her 
loss — though chroniclers of the time aver that she 
kept the apartment crowded with jesters, buffoons 
and dwarfs, whose fool play kept her in a gale of 
merriment. 

Gradually Christina assumed the duties of a queen. 
At sixteen she presided over the senate with tact 
and decision. At eighteen she became of age and 
became queen in fact; the regency being dissolved. 
Her spirit was dominant. She would have no prime 
minister, and ruled as a personal sovereign. She 
read all of the despatches and dictated the replies to 
generals in the field and ambassadors at foreign courts. 
She attended all meetings of her council and ruled 
it by force of character and sheer resolution. She 
was esteemed the most autocratic sovereign Sweden 
had known in centimes. 

The power she had was not always exerted wisely. 
She forced the cessation of the Thirty Years' War, 
not because her spirit revolted against the barbarity 
of that furious conflict, but because she thought the 
regent, Oxenstiern, was getting too much glory out 
of it. The Treaty of Westphalia was a good thing 
for humanity, but bad for Sweden, for it was dictated 
by Christina just in time to deprive her country of 
some of the richest fruits of victory. 

Early in her reign pressure was brought to bear 
upon her to marry. She was obdurate. She who 
hated women would not marry a man, The danger 



122 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

to the succession, should she not provide an heir, was 
pointed out. She responded by designating her cousin, 
Charles Gustavus, as her heir. He being passionately 
in love with her, declared angrily that if he could not 
have her he would not have her throne. Finally she 
pacified him with the promise that she would give 
him her answer in five years, and if she could not 
then marry him she would never marry any one. 
Homely as she was, and notoriously of violent temper, 
the emperors and kings of Europe were at her feet, 
some pleading for themselves, others for their sons. 
To all she gave a decisive negative, not often trying 
to temper it with soft words. And when members of 
the council continued to preach to her about the need 
of an heir to the throne, she replied brusquely, "Do 
not," she cried, "compel me to make a choice. Should 
I bear a son it is equally probable that he will prove 
a Nero as an Augustus." , 

Christina's stubborn refusal to make a royal match 
bred discontent both at the court and among the 
people. Her extravagance and wanton squandering 
of the property of the crown was another cause of grow- 
ing popular dislike. She had a singular fancy for 
creating new nobles — a tribe without which any state 
could get along cheerfully. Within ten years she 
created 17 counts, 46 barons and 426 lesser nobles. 
Of course, each had to have an estate. There are 
plenty of penniless counts and barons now to supply 
the American marriage market, but Christina started 
her new peers well, whatever may be the condition 
of their descendants. The crown lands were sold or 
mortgaged to an amount exceeding an annual outlay 



QUEEN CHRISTINA OF SWEDEN 123 



of 1,200,000 rix dollars. The rix dollar is a silver coin 
of varying value, but usually equivalent to about 
$1.16 of our coinage. The higher purchasing power 
of money in Christina's time made this sum equal to 
almost double what it would be to-day. And as this 
generous monarch, who could read Thucydides in the 
original, had not acquired a habit of system, she so 
frequently gave away the same parcel of land several 
times that the authorities were sore put to it to deter- 
mine what was crown property and what belonged to 
the newest count. 

No more uneasy head ever wore a crown. By 1654 
she had positively determined to abdicate. Poetry 
and romance had somehow made their way into that 
hard and virile mind. She dreamed of the soft skies 
of Italy. She pictured herself with the revenues and 
dignity of a queen, but without a queen's duties and 
vested with perfect liberty. 

Accordingly, in 1654 she abdicated. To her cousin, 
heir and faithful lover, Charles Gustavus, fell the 
crown. But none of her adherents would lift it from 
her head, so she herself handed it to him as he knelt 
before her. Never would he wear it in her presence, 
though he was proclaimed King of Sweden with the 
title of Charles X, the same day. 

Thus freed, Christina made haste to leave her native 
land. In abdicating she had not failed to drive a 
sharp bargain with the government. She was given 
for life an allowance of 240,000 rix dollars annually. 
She was permitted to take away all her personal treas- 
ures — she gave wide latitude to the word "personal" 
— and was to reside wherever she chose with all the 



124 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

rights and powers of a queen over her own household, 
This latter guarantee she later construed as a right 
to murder a gentleman in waiting. 

The extent of her appropriations of public property 
before leaving Sweden irritated the populace and 
there was serious talk of using force to prevent her 
departure with her spoils. However, she got away 
safely, and reaching a little brook which separated 
Sweden from territory then owned by Denmark, she 
leaped lightly across it crying, "At length I am free 
and out of Sweden, whither I hope never to return." 
Her first act was to send her waiting women back 
to the capital; her next to don men's clothes, in which 
apparel she proceeded to Brussels. Here she formally 
renounced the Protestant faith, of which Sweden- had 
long been the great bulwark in Europe. Here, too, she 
was feted and herself entertained with prodigal ex- 
penditure. The great Cardinal Mazarin, exulting 
over this new recruit to Catholicism, sent a company 
of comedians to Brussels who entertained the court 
with plays and operas. She herself lived with royal 
magnificence, giving huge sums to priests, poets, 
courtiers, mummers and parasites. When the money 
she had brought from Sweden was running low she 
turned toward Italy with a train of more than two 
hundred people. 

Her progress toward Italy was truly royal. Every- 
where she was given the welcome befitting a queen. 
Now and again she took occasion to further abjure 
Protestantism and emphasize her faith in the Church 
of Rome. But occasionally she let some evidence of 
her callous insincerity slip, as when at Innsbrouck 



QUEEN CHRISTINA OF SWEDEN 125 



after professing faith at the cathedral, she was taken 
to a theatre. " Tis but fair/' she said, "that you 
should treat me to comedy after I have treated you 
to a farce." 

Rome marveled at her entree, clad in men's clothes 
and riding astride on a white charger at the head of 
her cavalcade. Festivities had been provided in her 
honor by the Pope, but it does not appear that that 
sagacious prelate was wholly enraptured by the appear- 
ance of this peculiar convert who dressed, rode and 
swore like a trooper. 

The Swedes were none too well pleased with her 
doings at Brussels and her repeated repudiations of 
the faith of her native land. There was talk of can- 
celing her allowance, but in the end they merely de- 
layed its payment that she might have a taste of what 
would happen if she persisted in her ways. The em- 
barrassed queen had to disband her court, and when 
she wanted to go to Paris pawned her jewels to 
raise the needed funds. 

Her reception at Paris was royal, though her male 
costume, her manner of riding and general uncouth- 
ness amused the populace and horrified the court. 
The Duke of Guise met her at Marseilles; Cardinal 
Mazarin and the king himself — the latter incog.— at 
Chantilly. Before reaching Paris her cortege grew to 
regal proportions, and she rode in the midst on a white 
charger with pistols at her saddle bow and mightily 
pleased with herself. After weeks of festivity she 
returned to Rome in less royal state, for she traveled 
in a hired carriage and her expenses were paid by 
Louis XIV. 



126 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Christina now became a restless wanderer about 
Europe and a bit of an international nuisance as well. 
She had in her retinue a gentleman named Monalde- 
schi, reputed to be her lover. One day she sum- 
moned him. He found with her three armed men and 
a priest. Displaying a packet of letters the nature of 
which has never been disclosed, she asked if he recog- 
nized them. Falling on his knees he admitted their 
authorship, and despite two hours of pleading was 
put to death in her presence. Yet she was not with- 
out piety while superintending a murder. The priest 
was there to confess the victim, but the suppliant 
would not confess. "Give him a few stabs to bring 
him to his senses," said the queen, and the poor wretch 
received several thrusts before the priest discharged 
the last office. 

This ended Christina's standing at the French 
court. The king immediately wrote her not to come 
to Paris. Returning to Rome, she cajoled an allow- 
ance of 12,000 crowns from the Pope, then quarreled 
with him. She began again the dreary round of bor- 
rowing and pawning. With strange fatuousness she 
dreamed of regaining the crown of Sweden, and made 
two futile journeys to that country, being on the 
second occasion refused permission to enter Stockholm. 

In 1689 she died, deserted by friends and surrounded 
only by dependents. One of her monuments is a medal 
she had struck showing a bird of paradise soaring 
above land, sea and clouds, with on the reverse in 
Italian: "I was born, have lived, and will die free." 

Which would suggest that the worth of freedom 
rests with those who enjoy it. 









■^/-■■',S1, 
£ v" **&£ 







ISABELLA OF CASTILE 

From on imjroviwj hy Charles tibial 



ISABELLA OF CASTILE 

(1451-1504) 
THE FINANCIER OF COLUMBUS 7 GREAT VOYAGE 

LEGENDARY history tells many stories of Isa- 
bella of Castile which may or may not be true, 
<* but authenticated history relates much as 
romantic as legend. It is not all important 
whether she did or did not make a solemn vow not to 
change her lingerie until Granada had surrendered, and 
thus made a dingy hue fashionable for Spanish lace. 
The important fact is that she captured Granada and 
drove the Moors from Spain. Neither is it vital 
whether or not she pawned her jewels to aid Columbus. 
What is vital is that without her aid the great Amer- 
ican continent might have remained long undiscovered. 
Naturally legend clings close about her, for she was 
one of the great figures of history. 

Over the early days of Isabella we may pass briefly. 
They bear the record common to the lives of young 
princesses of the time, whose title to the throne was 
collateral rather than direct, and who therefore became 
the center of plots and counterplots either for their 
advancement or their undoing. Her father was John 
II of Castile, who on hi§ death was succeeded by his 
son, and Isabella's elder brother, Henry. Still another 
brother was living in her earlier days, so that her 

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128 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

chance of succeeding to the throne was but remote, 
and she spent her childhood in remote country places 
of Spain. But in 1468 the younger brother died and 
King Henry, proclaiming her his lawful heir to the 
thrones of Castile and Leon, summoned her to court. 
Of course statesmen gambled with the matrimonial 
chances of a possible queen. At first her brother 
affianced her without her knowledge to Alfonso, King 
of Portugal, a dissipated monarch much her senior. 
Her happy recollection that "the infantas of Castile 
could not be disposed without the consent of the 
nobles of the realm," saved her. Then one Don 
Pedro de Pacheco was selected as her consort, and 
though she flourished a dagger declaring she would 
strike him dead at the altar, the preparations for the 
wedding were continued. But on the way to Madrid 
where the nuptials were to have been celebrated Don 
Pedro obligingly died. It was reported that poison 
hastened an end which certainly had not been antici- 
pated when he started on his matrimonial adventure. 
But it was never charged that Isabella was a party 
to the crime — if crime there were. Quick upon Pedro's 
demise came a prince of England, destined later to 
be King Richard III, hated by all the readers of 
Shakespeare's immortal tragedy. Following him was 
the Duke de Guierme, heir presumptive to the throne 
of France, which by the way he never attained. Both 
of these were set aside by the Spanish beauty, though 
it appears that for a time she looked favorably upon 
the latter. It is hard to tell how much personal con- 
siderations and how much affairs of state led her to 
finally fix her choice upon Ferdinand of Aragon, crown 
prince of that independent kingdom. 



ISABELLA OF CASTILE 129 

Ferdinand was young and personable, his principal- 
ity adjoined that of Castile and Leon to which Isabella 
was heir. Affection and policy alike approved the 
match and it was made. But in the making of it the 
ire of her brother, King Henry, was again aroused and 
he threatened imprisonment and other dire things if 
she longer remained obdurate and refused to marry 
the man of his choice, Alfonso of Portugal. The 
girl thereupon fled to Madrigal — a town with a name 
like a song, but which in fact is gloomy as a dirge. 
Meanwhile ambassadors were sent to King John of 
Aragon urging him to hasten his son's appearance for 
the wedding lest the bride be captured by the hostile 
faction. 

The call came to King John at a hapless time. Put- 
ting it colloquially, he was at the moment "broke." 
His treasury, exhausted by a long war with the Cata- 
lans, would not stand the cost of a suitable wedding 
outfit for Ferdinand nor provide the Prince with an 
escort and equipage suitable to his rank. But if love 
among the lowly laughs at locksmiths, so with the 
Prince and Princess it rose superior to treasury deficits. 
In the guise of a servant to a company of merchants 
Prince Ferdinand proceeded to Valladolid, where he 
found his bride and was presently united to her by 
the then friendly Archbishop of Toledo. 

King Henry being notified of the marriage, showed 
his disapproval of it first by a cold and studied silence, 
then by revoking the proclamation by which he had 
declared Isabella his heir. Instead he conferred the 
reversion of the throne upon his daughter Joanna, 
about whose legitimacy there were sundry well founded 



ISO WOMEN OF HISTORY 

doubts. Thereupon the neighboring throne hunters 
flocked about the new heiress. 

While these plottings for the throne were going on 
Ferdinand and Isabella were living in the utmost 
simplicity at Duenas — for they had not the money 
to live otherwise. Ferdinand was young, handsome, 
an outdoor man and a popular one. A contemporary 
writer describes his bride thus: "Isabella was a year 
older than he. She was well formed, of the middle 
size, with great dignity and gracefulness of deport- 
ment; a mingled gravity and sweetness of demeanor; 
confiding and affectionate." 

Sometimes adversity brings its recompenses. The 
simplicity of life forced upon the young couple brought 
them influential friends who revolted against the 
profligacy and extravagance of King Henry's court. 
Even Henry himself, in a moment of apparent contri- 
tion, consented to reconciliation with his sister and on 
foot led her palfrey through the streets of Saragossa. 
But his new brotherly affection did not last and the 
rejoicings of the people, who had already learned to 
estimate Isabella at her true worth, had not died away 
before she was compelled to flee to avoid arrest by the 
King spurred on by his favorites who had charged 
her with an attempt to poison him. 

However, Isabella had not long to wait before coming 
to the throne upon which she was destined to confer 
such glory. December 11, 1474, Henry died, after a 
reign discreditable to him and useless to his kingdom. 
He had left no will and Isabella and Joanna were left 
claimants to the throne. Naturally it was won by 
the more aggressive. Isabella was in Segovia when 



ISABELLA OF CASTILE 131 



the news arrived. The next morning she was crowned 
Queen of Castile. Though hasty, all was performed 
in due pomp and magnificence. The heralds pro- 
claimed from the four corners of the platform "Castile! 
Castile! for the King Don Ferdinand and his consort 
Donna Isabella, Queen Proprietor of these kingdoms." 
After a solemn mass and the chanting of the Te Deum 
Isabella walked in stately procession down the aisle 
of the cathedral, at last a queen but well knowing 
that she would have to fight for her crown. 

" Uneasy," says the hackneyed proverb, "lies the 
head that wears a crown." Never was one more 
uneasy than that of Isabella. Her first difficulty 
arose with her husband, who had been away at the 
time of her coronation. He returned in a state of 
childish pique because he had not been crowned king. 
In his own state of Aragon no woman had ever ruled, 
and he was sorely displeased at being a mere prince 
consort in Castile. But Isabella diplomatized. The 
royal couple had one child, a daughter, and the queen 
argued that only her assumption of the queenly state 
could secure the throne to their daughter. Ferdinand 
acquiesced, though with some surliness. 

The War of the Succession broke out immediately 
after the assumption of the throne by the royal pair. 
The King of Portugal had been betrothed to Joanna, 
Henry's daughter, and he straightway led his armies 
into Spain to win the crown for which he long had 
plotted. For a moment Isabella's fortunes seemed to 
be in desperate case. Under the profligate rule of 
Henry the army of Spain had fallen away to nothing. 
The young queen had a scant 500 men at her command. 



132 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

She was compelled to appeal to the nobles and grandees. 
But these too shared the general decadence of the 
nation. Their loyalty to the crown was of the very 
slenderest. The form of the oath of allegiance they 
took emphasized the elasticity of this bond: "We 
who are each of us as good as you, and all together 
more powerful than you, promise loyalty to your 
government, if you maintain our rights and liberties; 
but not otherwise." 

A queen without an army, without a court, without 
even a capital, Isabella lived for the first few months 
of her reign in the saddle, galloping over Spain to seek 
an army. Her indomitable determination and her 
powers of persuasion triumphed in the end. Her 
500 men of May, 1474, had grown to 40,000 in August. 
All were dispatched to Ferdinand, who was confront- 
ing the implacable Alfonso seeking the Spanish throne. 
It does not seem to have been a war of many battles, 
but rather one of many threats. Ferdinand, defeated 
in his effort to drive the Portuguese from the walled 
town of Toro, wanted to conclude peace on terms 
which involved the surrender of two Spanish cities. 
"Not a foot of our territory! Not a stone of our 
fortresses!" cried the indomitable queen, and she 
made good her boast, for presently thereafter, having 
taken personal command of her army, she drove the 
Portuguese back into their own territory whence they 
did not again emerge. In the end the vexed question 
of the succession was settled by diplomacy. Isabella 
after a ride of 250 miles on horseback met her aunt, 
Alfonso's sister-in-law, at Alcantara and the two women 
settled by treaty the issue which the slaughter of 
thousands of men had not ended. 



ISABELLA OF CASTILE 133 

/Isabella loved action — seemingly she loved trouble. 
Between her wars she undertook two civic tasks which 
occupied much of her life and which have brought 
in certain circles dark odium upon her name. Both 
were seemingly dictated by her passionate devotion 
to the Roman Catholic religion and her desire to extir- 
pate heresy in her dominion. Her first task was the 
expulsion from Spain of all the Jews. This she de- 
fended as a pious work, but history shows that after 
the time-honored custom of their race the Jews had 
been the money lenders of the nation, and their debtors, 
as reluctant to pay as they had been eager to borrow, 
warmly approved the queen's efforts to drive the 
heretics to foreign lands whence their dunning letters 
would cause little worry. The expulsion was con- 
ducted with the utmost harshness and the sufferings 
inflicted upon the helpless Hebrews in the name of 
religion will ever stain the name of Isabella. In the 
name of her faith too she established the Holy In- 
quisition for the detection and punishment of heresy. 
At its head was a priest, Thomas de Torquemada, 
whose name has become a synonym for cold cruelty, 
though there is no doubt that in all he did he honestly 
believed himself working for the kingdom of Heaven 
on earth. The incidents of Isabella's first meeting 
with him throw light alike on his character and hers. 
He was in the confessor's booth. She came to con- 
fess, and knelt before him. 

"It is usual for both parties to kneel," said the 
queen haughtily when she noticed that the priest 
placidly retained his seat. 

"No," said he with equal hauteur, "this is God's 



134 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

tribunal; I act here as his minister and it is fitting 
that I should keep my seat while your Highness kneels 
before me/' 

The reply impressed deeply the devout mind of the 
Queen and thenceforward Torquemada had her im- 
plicit trust and was loaded with honors. 

Nearly all of the deeds which cast lustre on the 
name of Isabella had some religious reason for their 
undertaking. In the savage and successful war which 
she prosecuted against the Moors in Spain she was 
animated quite as much by the determination to drive 
the unbelieving infidels out of Europe as by the wish 
to add their provinces to her dominion. In that war 
she was ever in the field. Two of her children were 
born at the front, one of them being Katherine of 
Aragon, destined to exert so great an influence upon 
English history. Her nurseries were always in the 
camps. Once, after a brief absence, returning to the 
scene of action she was so horrified by the sufferings 
of the wounded that she set aside several large tents 
for their use. This was the first instance in history 
of a field hospital and for years that institution was 
known in the Spanish armies as "the Queen's tent." 
At the siege of Granada her tent caught fire and she 
escaped with her life, but little else. The episode 
gave her an idea. It was already apparent that the 
defense of the Moors would be stubborn and pro- 
tracted. Accordingly she used the labor of the be- 
sieging army, which could be employed in no better 
way, in substituting for the camp of tents and mud 
huts, a regular city of stone and mortar. From the 
battlements of Granada the Moors looked down upon 



ISABELLA OF CASTILE 135 



this growing city of Santa Fe (Holy Faith), as the 
queen called it, and marveled at the woman who, not 
content with seeking to take from them their town, 
built one of her own before it. Perhaps this evidence 
of indomitable determination affected their own ob- 
stinacy. At any rate Granada was surrendered and 
the last vestige of Moorish domination in Europe was 
destroyed. 

Just as the war for the expulsion of the Moors had 
its religious foundation, so too had Isabella's support 
of the expedition of Columbus which produced more 
far-reaching and important results than anything 
done by any one man. Columbus urged in vain the 
probable profits that would attend the success of his 
effort. But when the Genoese navigator — who must 
have been coached by some one about the court — 
spoke of taking the true faith to the savages whom 
no doubt he would encounter, her interest was straight- 
way stimulated. Ferdinand, who, to the end of a life 
spent in the shade of the refulgent glory of his greater 
spouse, was penurious to the extreme, would have 
naught to do with Columbus and made no secret of 
his impatience with her for listening to the needy 
Italian adventurer. 

"I will assume the undertaking for my own crown 
of Castile/ 7 cried Isabella, "and I am ready to pawn 
my jewels to pay the expenses. 7 ' Out of this exclama- 
tion grew the story of the pawning of the jewels, which 
in fact never occurred. Nevertheless had it not been 
for the insistence of the queen, Columbus would never 
have set out on his epoch-making voyage, and it seems 
odd that in our national capital, plentifully besprinkled 



136 WOMEN OF HIST ORY 

with monuments and statues in honor of the great 
navigator, there is no statue of the great woman who 
alone made his enterprise possible. 

When Columbus returned, bringing strange woods 
and spices and above all several Indians to attest his 
discovery of a new land and an unknown race, Fer- 
dinand eagerly shared the glory of an achievement 
to which he had contributed nothing. The queen, 
however, feeling that the great work had just begun, 
fitted out the explorer with a fleet of seventeen vessels 
and dispatched him again into the unknown seas. 
Once more the religious element loomed large in her 
nature and she adjured him to treat the heathen 
"well and lovingly and to chastise in the most ex- 
emplary manner all who should offer the natives the 
slightest molestation." It was a report that the ad- 
miral had violated these instructions that led to his 
being brought back to Spain in chains, but for this 
indignity Isabella, though not responsible, made such 
full reparation that the iron-hearted discoverer in an 
ecstasy of gratitude threw himself at her feet and 
wept aloud. 

The later days of the great queen were full of sorrow. 
Death repeatedly invaded her household, carrying 
away her only son, Prince Juan, in the midst of his 
honeymoon, and her daughter Isabella. More cruel 
still was the hopeless insanity of her daughter Juana. 
Under these repeated blows the indomitable spirit of 
Spain's greatest monarch broke and November 26, 
1504, she died broken hearted. 

"In all her revelations of queen or woman," wrote 
Lord Bacon, "she was an honor to her sex and a 
corner-stone of the greatness of Spain." 



MARIA THERESA OF AUSTRIA 

(1717-1780) 
THE TRUE FOUNDER OF THE AUSTRIAN EMPIRE 

THE daughter of Emperor Charles V was 
twenty-three years old when that monarch, 
after having survived divers battlefields and 
other perils incident to kingcraft, ate too lav- 
ishly of mushrooms stewed in oil and passed spasmod- 
ically away, leaving to her his throne and the accu- 
mulated troubles that attended it. The name con- 
ferred upon her at baptism had been Maria Theresa 
Valperga Amelia Christina. If it seems a trifle long 
it is at least balanced by the list of titles she acquired 
with her father's death — Queen of Hungary and Bo- 
hemia, Archduchess of Austria, Sovereign of the 
Netherlands, Duchess of Milan, of Parma, and Pla- 
centia, and Grand Duchess of Tuscany. The pre- 
posterous name she bore in peace, but for every one 
of her titles she was forced to fight. 

Her inheritance of fighting force — save her own 
indomitable and militant will — had been but slender. 
Her father shone rather in the arts of peace than in 
the clash of arms. He drilled a corps de ballet better 
than an army corps, and while he led an orchestra 
playing his own compositions with skill and vigor, he 
was never seen leading a cavalry charge. This was 

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138 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



the more unfortunate because in that warlike age 
Austria was completely surrounded by powerful states 
all eager for slices of her territory. Russia, Turkey, 
France, Prussia and Sardinia (then a power) all looked 
hungrily on the Austrian provinces. Charles V thought 
he had provided for his daughter that peace which he 
himself loved when he concluded with the powers of 
Europe a treaty called the Pragmatic Sanction by 
which they all agreed to support Maria Theresa as 
Empress of Austria. It was beyond doubt a noble 
treaty, which, if respected, would have averted the 
War of the Succession. But its weakness was that 
it was made at a period when treaties were made only 
to be broken, and one after the other, all the parties 
to it attacked Maria Theresa when she succeeded to 
the throne they had solemnly promised to protect. 

Besides this precious treaty the emperor left to his 
heiress a bankrupt treasury. In it was a scant $40,000, 
not enough to pay the accrued interest on the national 
debt. The army, widely scattered, unpaid and almost 
wholly destitute of munitions of war, numbered barely 
30,000 men. The provinces were undermined with 
revolt, particularly Bohemia and Hungary, the great 
nobles of the latter being about to cast in their lot 
with their neighbors the Turks. Finally Austria's 
most powerful neighbor, Frederick of Prussia, after- 
wards to be known as "the Great," quietly ignored 
the treaty to which he had been a party, and march- 
ing his troops into Silesia calmly notified Maria Theresa 
that he had picked this special bit of her territory for 
his own. 

This was the beginning of a war lasting eight years, 



MARIA THERESA OF AUSTRIA 139 

the story of which can by no possibility be told here. 
In it were involved at various times Russia, Austria, 
Bohemia, Prussia, Turkey, France, Holland and Eng- 
land. From time to time two or three of these nations 
would be fighting together as allies, and a day or two 
later against each other as savage enemies. Treaties 
and formal alliances were as common as the smoke 
over the battlefields, and as evanescent. It was the 
day of savagery in war. The sack of cities, the mas- 
sacre of non-combatants, the shrieks of violated women 
and of slaughtered children, were all part of the mili- 
tary programme of the great captains of those days. 
When our own General Sherman, accused of being 
harsh in a war prosecuted on both sides with singular 
restraint from cruelty, said "War is hell!" one wonders 
what he would have said could he have been present 
at some of the orgies that attended the capture of a 
town in this savage war. 

Into this struggle the empress plunged with a cour- 
age far beyond the forces she had to support it. That 
she prosecuted it for eight years and emerged with 
credit is due to her wonderful will. Her husband, 
the Duke of Lorraine, for whom she felt such affec- 
tion as resulted in her bearing him sixteen children, 
was a brave soldier, but no general. She was not only 
a general, but marvelous in her power of awakening 
loyalty among disaffected subjects. In the midst of 
her darkest days she went, to Presburg— in wavering 
Hungary— to be crowned. There they placed upon her 
head the iron crown of St. Stephen, draped over her 
jeweled robes his ragged cloister gown and girded his 
battered sword about her waist. Thus attired she 



140 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

rode to the crest of the Royal Mount and defied, 
with drawn sabre, "the four corners of the world." 

Theatrical? Of course, it was. As she uttered that 
brave defiance she could hardly defend herself and her 
^kingdom against any adversary. But she was posing 
before one of the most emotional people of Europe, 
and when, flushed with exertion, her crown removed 
and her rich hair falling in masses about her glowing 
face, she addressed the Hungarian nobles they rose 
as one man, and with clanking scabbards and gleaming 
swords cried out in chorus, "We will consecrate our 
lives and arms; we will die for our King Maria 
Theresa!" 

Hungary then recognized no queens. 

With this triumph in her most disaffected province 
the queen speedily had an army wherewith to fight for 
her dominions. It was the beginning of that marvelous 
empire which to-day, under the name of Austria- 
Hungary, challenges the admiration of the world for 
the beauty of its two great cities, Vienna and Buda- 
pest, and for the fashion in which once warring national- 
ities have been welded into a fairly harmonious whole. 

Out of this war Maria Theresa came with some loss 
of territory — the odds against her compelled that — but 
with fame as one of the great warriors of the day. 
When she entered upon it she had been looked upon 
as a weak young bride wrapped up in husband and 
children. She herself has said that but for the sense 
of responsibility which the crown conferred upon her 
she would have been glad to have played the merely 
domestic part. "With joy," she wrote, "had I been 
insignificant and had remained simply Grand Duchess 



MARIA THERESA OF AUSTRIA 141 



of Tuscany, if I could have believed that God so 
willed it; but as he has chosen me to bear the great 
burden of government! hold it on principle and con- 
sider it my duty to apply all my resources to the task." 
That she did so apply her resources is shown by the 
station of Austria among the nations of Europe to-day. 
She laid the foundation of its present greatness. And 
yet men say that women are destitute of the faculty 
of constructive statesmanship ! 

Neither did this woman who had fought so hard to 
prevent other nations from robbing her of her own 
territory hesitate for a moment to do a little robbing 
when the opportunity presented itself. Upon the fan- 
fame of Maria Theresa the one dark blot is the part 
she took in dividing up the territory of Poland and 
wiping that nationality off the map of Europe. This 
was merely imperial theft. Poland was surrounded 
by Austria, Russia and Prussia, and was itself dis- 
organized and unable to resist an act of international 
piracy. At Maria Theresa's incentive the three sur- 
rounding nations invaded Poland, obliterated its 
government and divided its territory. Austria's share 
was 45,000 square miles and 5,000,000 inhabitants. 
Now, after the lapse of a century and a half the par- 
tition of Poland is still referred to as one of the great 
crimes of history. 

The militant empress, who fought so hard to save 
her empire, was not merely a soldier. Though she 
could send men by the thousands to bloody deaths, 
could order the sack of an enemy's city or expose one 
of her own to the riot and rapine of a brutal soldiery, 
she was equally devoted to her civic duties. As a 



142 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

mother, though sixteen children blessed her union 
with Francis, she can scarcely be said to have been 
devoted. The care the children received was the care 
of others, though there was maternal supervision of 
their needs precisely as there was queenly recognition 
of the regiments far away fighting for the maintenance 
of her empire. To us in more modern days it seems 
curious that a mother should ignore her children thus, 
and that a great nation would look upon her enthusi- 
asm for her army as being a sufficient excuse for her 
indifference to her family. And yet, out of this ap- 
parent indifference, the children grew in ability and 
dignity. Perhaps among them all there was no more 
striking instance of what might be done by her system 
of education than the life of Marie Antoinette. 

This ill-fated princess was betrothed to Louis XVI 
of France when she was but fifteen years old. The 
betrothal was part of a diplomatic plan by which 
Maria Theresa sought to tie France to her in a new 
war which she was planning. France and Austria had 
been hereditary enemies. At the moment when the 
empress of Austria sought to make of France an ally 
there was no real king of France — the power in that 
land was Mme. de Pompadour, the king's mistress. 
It must have been a bitter mortification for the empress 
of Austria, a woman of unblemished life and of royal 
heritage, to address the Pompadour pleading for aid. 
Nevertheless, she did so, calling her " Madame, my 
cousin and dear friend." It was one of the first recog- 
nitions that the famous courtesan had obtained from 
royalty and it speedily resulted in an alliance between 
France and Austria. In making this new alliance the 



MARIA THERESA OF AUSTRIA 143 



Austrian empress estranged for a time her husband 
and her children. But, with characteristic diplomacy, 
she won them to her way of thinking. Her one pur- 
pose in life was to win back Silesia and to destroy the 
power of Frederick the Great, and to accomplish this 
she abased herself before the Pompadour. 

In passing it may be noted that Frederick, the 
greatest warrior of his time, and Maria Theresa, 
though bitter enemies and almost constantly embroiled 
in war, held the highest respect for each other. Each 
was a master of the art of war, wholly indifferent to 
human life and suffering; seeing in the triumphs of 
the battlefield rather than in the industry of the farm 
and the workshop the highest glory of a nation. Each, 
too, was a skilled diplomatist, as ready to break a 
treaty as to make it, and shifting alliances so swiftly 
that sometimes the troops of other nations in the 
field were in doubt whether they were fighting for 
Frederick or for Maria Theresa. 

In 1756 the fighting began again — inaugurating the 
so-called Seven Years' War. In this titanic struggle, 
the fiercest that Europe saw before the time of Na- 
poleon, Austria had at first the co-operation of France, 
Russia and a number of lesser powers. Frederick stood 
alone except for some financial support from England 
— the people of which nation, by the way, are still 
paying some millions sterling a year upon a national 
debt incurred largely by financing the quarrels of 
European kings. 

Of the Seven Years' War it may merely be said that 
it lasted the time indicated by its name; that in it 
cities were razed, provinces desolated and 500,000 men 



144 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



slain; how great the expenditure of treasure and the 
loss due to the shock to trade and industry cannot be 
estimated. When fairly fought to exhaustion the two 
high contending parties signed a treaty re-establishing 
the situation precisely as it was at the beginning of 
the war. Not an iota of advantage was reaped by 
either after all the outpouring of blood and treasure. 
A picturesque illustration of the vicissitudes of the 
conflict was furnished in the battle of the Oder. With 
the allies in full retreat Frederick sent to his queen 
at Berlin this exultant message: "We have driven 
the enemy from their entrenchments; in two hours 
expect to hear of a glorious victory." In less than 
two hours the fugitives had returned to the attack 
and a second courier galloped off with the message: 
"Remove from Berlin with the royal family. Let the 
archives be carried to Potsdam and the capital make 
conditions with the enemy." 

« With the end of the Seven Years' War peace settled 
upon Maria Theresa's life — peace, but hardly happi- 
ness. Though destined herself to a long life — seventeen 
years more — death invaded her household, and some- 
times in a form peculiarly cruel. Her husband, Francis, 
was first to go, dropping dead of apoplexy as he was 
leaving the opera. The empress had been worrying 
over his appearance all day and had besought him 
to be bled, but he refused, pleading his opera engage- 
ment and a promise to sup later with his son — the 
latter rendezvous, however, is believed to have been 
with one of his numerous mistresses. Though thor- 
oughly cognizant of his innumerable infidelities, Maria 
Theresa seems to have been sincerely devoted to 



MARIA THERESA OP AUSTRIA 145 

r— 

'Francis. To her children she wrote: "You have lost 
a most incomparable father; and I a consort — a 
friend — my heart's joy for forty-two years past." 
i Never during the next fifteen years did she fail to 
visit his tomb on the anniversary of his death. 

Maria Theresa was stern, haughty, imperious of 
temperament. This quality cost the life of her 
daughter, Josepha, who, on the eve of her departure 
to join her betrothed, the king of Naples, was forced 
to go down into the family tomb and offer a prayer in 
accordance with Hapsburg ceremonial. The poor girl 
knew that but recently the body of one of the royal 
family who had died of smallpox had been placed in 
the tomb, yet she obeyed. "I am going to leave you, 
Marie," she said pathetically to her sister, Marie 
Antoinette, "hot for Naples, but to die. I must visit 
the tomb of our ancestors, and I am sure that I shall 
take the smallpox and be buried there." In a few 
days the prophecy came true. 

November 29, 1780, it came Maria Theresa's time 
to go into a presence more imperial than hers. To 
her son Joseph, who succeeded to the throne, she com- 
mended her younger children, and to them she pre- 
scribed loyalty and obedience to the emperor. Among 
her last utterances was this: "I could wish for immor- 
tality on earth for no other reason than for the power 
of relieving the distressed." 

A truly pious thought, but one which sounds strange 
coming from an empress whose avidity for war and 
eagerness to maintain her pride by the sword had 
brought distress upon hundreds of thousands of house- 
holds! 

10 



MARIE ANTOINETTE 

(1755-179S) 
THE DIAMOND NECKLACE AND THE GUILLOTINE 

ONCE upon a time a queen of France, when 
the people of Paris were literally starving, 
was reported to have said innocently: "If 
they have no bread why don't they eat cake?" 
About this same time a clever swindler, calling her- 
self Countess de la Motte de Valois and an earlier 
prototype of Mme. Humbert, used the name of the 
queen to swindle a trusting jeweler out of a diamond 
necklace, and in the enterprise duped the Cardinal de 
Rohan and dragged that proudest of French names in 
the dust. 

Queen Marie Antoinette probably never made the 
heartless jest at the expense of a starving people. 
Certainly she was no party to the diamond necklace 
swindle. But the mob of Paris, maddened by oppres- 
sion and privation, believed she could laugh at their 
misery. They had been taught that kings and queens 
were more than ordinary mortals, but here was a queen 
conspiring with the basest swindlers to rob a jeweler. 
For the jester they had hatred and execration; for the 
swindler they lost all reverence and fear. Save for 
the temper of the people the affair would have been 
trivial. But it proved all important. "Mind that 
miserable affair of the necklace," said Talleyrand. 

(146) 




MARIE ANTOINETTE OX HER WAY TO THE GUILLOTINE 

From the painting by F. Fltmaig 



MARIE ANTOINETTE 147 

"I should not be surprised if it should overturn the 
French monarchy." The wiliest of European diplo- 
mats foresaw correctly. 

Marie Antoinette was born in 1755, and was accord- 
ingly fifteen years old when in 1770 she was married 
to the Dauphin of France, who became King Louis 
XVI and gave his head as tribute to the French revo- 
lution. Her mother, Maria Theresa, was not merely 
the wife of Francis I, and therefore empress of Austria 
— she was one of the great monarchs of history, a ruler 
fit to be ranked with Isabella of Castile, Elizabeth of 
England, and Catherine of Russia. The daughter 
possessed many of the mother's regal qualities, and had 
she not been impeded with a supine and flabby husband 
might have checked the revolution in its incipiency, 
thus averting an upheaval which, though fatal to her, 
has been of surpassing value to humanity in all suc- 
ceeding generations. 

The progress of the child bride across the provinces 
of France to the great palace at Versailles, where the 
nuptials were to be celebrated, was triumphant. The 
nobility and country folk turned out to do her honor. 
The roads were strewn with flowers and her nights 
were dream hours of music and poesy. Only when she 
reached Versailles did the air grow chill. Her bride- 
groom, indeed, was enraptured with her appearance 
and the king cordiality itself. But the ladies of the 
gayest and most intriguant court in all Europe looked 
askance upon this new factor in the life of the palace. 
Versailles, to-day the property of the French people, 
is a palace which could house a whole cityful. In the 
days of the last two Kings Louis it was thronged by 
thousands of idle, dissipated, immoral courtiers. 



148 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

They looked on the prospective dauphiness as a 
new power, necessary to reckon with and most annoy- 
ingly likely to unsettle all their existing combinations. 
Saying she was too free in her manners, they turned 
from her to the courtesan Du Barry, who at the 
moment had the king under her influence, and whose 
manners and morals seemed quite in accord with the 
requirements of the court. Marie Antoinette had 
entered the most artificial society in all Europe, and 
her girlish sense of humor impelled her to laugh at its 
follies. Grand dames drew comfortable pensions for 
pulling off the queen's stockings at night or tying the 
ribbons of her night cap. To put on the king's coat 
of a morning required the salaried services of four 
noblemen in waiting. All this the dauphiness laughed 
at and was correspondingly hated by the parasites 
who feared lest she laugh their perquisites away. 

The hostility of the people of Paris was equally 
marked and equally unfair. Upon the marriage of 
the royal pair the king ordered magnificent popular 
fetes at Versailles and Paris. Among the attractions 
was a display of fireworks, in the course of which a 
panic ensued and many of the spectators were killed 
or wounded. The people grumbled; 20,000,000 livres 
and thirty-two good French lives was a high price, 
they said, to pay for "La Petite rAutrichienne" (the 
little Austrian). The prime trouble was that France 
and Austria were hereditary enemies, continually at 
war, and the people resented the king's bringing a 
princess of the latter land to be their future queen. 
One of the personal perquisites of a French queen was 
a tax levied every three years on bread and wine. 



MARIE ANTOINETTE 149 

This tax was peculiarly hard on the French people, 
who called it "la ceinture de la reine," or "the queen's 
girdle." When in May, 1774, Louis XV died and 
Marie Antoinette became queen she remitted this 
tax, declaring she would never accept one sou of it. 
For a time the populace applauded her action, but 
speedily forgot it. 

Then came the scandal of the diamond necklace — 
an affair of which the queen was both innocent and 
ignorant. Cardinal Rohan was grand almoner of 
France, a noble of the highest standing at court, and 
withal a true gentleman of the time, preying upon the 
earnings of the people for profit and upon the virtue 
of women of every estate for pleasure. To him came 
the pretended Countess de la Motte with a story of 
a necklace of fabulous value for which the queen 
yearned, but which she dared not purchase. But 
more. The envoy told the cardinal that Marie was 
in love with him, and were he to purchase the neck- 
lace for her would refuse him nothing. The heart of 
the voluptuary was stirred; the ambition of the prac- 
tised courtier aroused. He agreed to buy the necklace, 
the queen to repay him later, and as its value exceeded 
even his command of ready cash, would pay for it in 
instalments. 

But he wanted some evidence of the queen's par- 
ticipation in the affair. Whereupon La Motte pres- 
ently produced an invoice indorsed "AppreuvS; Marie 
Antoinette de France." The signature was forged, 
but neither the amorous cardinal nor the jeweler, eager 
for his sale, seemed to doubt it. But De Rohan 
demanded even more assurance. He must have an 



150 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

interview with the queen herself. Nothing easier. 
La Motte knew a woman having a singular resemblance 
to the queen. This girl, called d'Oliva, impersonated 
Marie in a midnight interview with De Rohan in the 
shrubbery of the Trianon. The necklace was bought 
and turned over to La Motte. The cardinal began to 
press his supposed advantage with Marie Antoinette, 
who, knowing nothing of the affair, was first puzzled 
and then brusque. Notes which the swindlers had 
given purporting to bear Marie's signature were un- 
paid, and the jeweler, facing bankruptcy, went in 
despair to the court for advice. It happened that 
the man he consulted was a bitter enemy of De Rohan, 
and gathering slowly all the evidence in the matter, 
he finally gave it the widest publicity in the way to 
do the most hurt. 

Only the Dreyfus case in later days has stirred 
France as did this seeming revelation of the partici- 
pation of a queen in a vulgar swindle. The mills of 
justice were set to work and ground swiftly, but 
though the evidence showed the queen wholly ignorant 
of the whole affair, the populace refused to believe in 
her innocence and the cabal in the court opposed to 
her kept the smouldering embers of scandal alive 
with whispered suggestions about her relations with 
Rohan — who by the way was deprived of all honors 
and posts and exiled to a monastery. 

Under the strain Marie Antoinette broke down. 
Historians say that she became solitary, weeping by 
the hour in her chamber. It was in this broken and 
pathetic state that she was called upon to meet the 
early stages of the revolution; to take the first steps 
along the path that ended with the guillotine. 



MARIE ANTOINETTE 151 

It was unhappy for the queen of France that the 
affair of the necklace occurred just when the people 
were plunged into the deepest abyss of poverty and 
misery. Thomas Carlyle, the most unsympathetic 
of historians of the revolution, expressed the situation 
of the French people at this time thus: 

"A widow is gathering nettles for her children's 
supper; a perfumed seigneur delicately lounging in 
the ceil de bceuf has an alchemy whereby he will 
extract from her the third nettle and calls it rent and 
law. Such an arrangement must end!" 

Under rent, taxes and seigneural rights the people 
of France had been ground down until they were as 
unreasoning in their wrath as wild beasts. Leaders 
they had at the outset who were wise, constructive 
statesmen. But it was part of Marie Antoinette's 
fate, or folly, that she set herself in opposition to those 
who were struggling for constitutional government 
and gave thereby the more excuse to the rabid revolu- 
tionists who brought on "The Terror." It has been 
the fashion to decry her husband for yielding to the 
advance of democracy, when she, like Napoleon, at 
the close of the Terror, would have checked it with 
"a whiff of grapeshot." Her militant policy would 
have been better for that particular royal family, but 
as it was accompanied with no plan to correct the just 
grievances of the French people the explosion would 
have come sooner or later. 

So she merely assumed an attitude of stubborn 
resistance to all the national assembly asked, and 
persuaded the king to veto many of its best measures, 
earning thereby the nickname of "Mme. Veto" and 



152 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



the hatred of the populace. The path she with others 
trod was not long, though plenteously watered with 
tears and blood. March 14, 1789, may be said to 
mark the true beginning of the revolution, for on that 
day the infuriated people of Paris stormed the Bastile. 
All that had gone before in the way of creating legis- 
lative assemblies had been orderly. Now red revolu- 
tion broke out with pikes and broadaxes and cannon. 
Bodies hung from the street lanterns, and the heads 
of officials appointed by the king were danced on pikes 
through the bloody streets. "Why, it is a revolt!" 
cried the king, startled, to the courier who brought 
him the news. "Nay, sire!" was the grave response, 
"it is a revolution." 

Only a few days after the fall of the Bastile a gor- 
geous banquet was given at Versailles. The courtiers 
in all their magnificence were there. So, too, the 
officers of the troops stationed about the palace. Wine 
flowed freely and the flames of loyalty burned high. 
The white cockade of the Bourbons, symbol of autoc- 
racy and all against which the people were contending, 
was tossed to the banqueters who threw aside and trod 
upon the tri-color — emblem of liberty, equality and 
fraternity — beloved of the people. Marie was present. 
How great the part she took in urging on the protests 
against the people's uprising is not definitely known, 
but the people imagined the worst. 

In Paris the stories of the banquet were naturally 
exaggerated. The court was rioting with rich food 
and wines, trampling the tri-color under foot. The 
people were starving, feeding on swill or, as one royal 
official advised them, eating grass. The head of that 



MARIE ANTOINETTE 153 

official, its bloody mouth stuffed with grass, later 
danced down the boulevards on a pike. Somewhere 
in the Faubourg St. Antoine, nursing spot of revolu- 
tion, a haggard, hungry woman began beating a drum 
and calling, "Bread! bread! bread!" In a few hours 
some 30,000 men and women, the scourings of the 
Parisian gutters, were marching on Versailles. There 
the palace was sacked. The few soldiers who remained 
faithful to the royal family were massacred. Through- 
out this awful riot Marie bore herself like a true queen. 

The mob called for her, and with her two children 
at her side she appeared on a balcony. There seems 
little doubt that it had been the purpose of some to 
shoot her when she showed herself, but they hesitated 
to injure innocent children. "Away with the children!" 
called scores of voices in unison. Knowing well what 
she risked Marie sent the children away and stood 
unprotected, a fair target for the shot of any one of 
that maddened and drunken throng. Her courage 
disarmed her foes and presently cries of "Vive la 
Heine " ("Long live the queen ") arose. The immediate 
peril was over. 

The next day, surrounded by a howling, execrating 
mob, the royal family was driven in the state coach 
to Paris, and lodged in the Tuileries, the city palace 
of the king, now his prison. Here every movement 
was spied upon, and Marie, unable to throw off her 
hereditary belief that royalty could do no wrong and 
that the people were never right, began plotting 
escape, and to undermine the revolutionary leaders. 

Austria was the hereditary enemy of France. She 
was an Austrian princess. Should she escape the 



154 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



Austrians would invade France- Clearly she must 
be kept a close prisoner. Not at that moment did 
the revolutionists who reasoned thus, and justly, think 
of putting her to death. Finally the royal family 
undertook a belated flight, but like everything that 
Louis and Marie undertook, the matter was bungled 
in every possible way. 

At Varennes the great carriage in which they traveled 
was stopped, and after a brief and humiliating examina- 
tion they were turned back to Paris. Lodged again 
in the Tuileries, it was soon found that there was no 
safety there for them. The mob broke in, sacked the 
palace, massacred the Swiss guards and would have 
slaughtered the royal family had not they taken refuge 
in the hall of the national assembly. In a day or two 
they were removed for safety to the Temple, a gloomy 
fortress hardly less forbidding than the Bastile. At 
first this was a refuge and they were well provided with 
luxuries; later it was a prison where they froze and 
starved. 

In this dungeon Marie was never exempt from insult. 
One day she heard the mob without crying, " Marie 
Antoinette! Mme. Veto!" Stepping to the window 
to see what was wanted, she was rudely thrust back 
by a guard, who closed the shutters. Indignant at 
first, her mood changed when she found that what the 
mob wanted her to see was the gory head of her dear- 
est friend, Mme. Lamballe, impaled on a pike and 
held against the bars of the window from which the 
guard had kept her. Not long after her husband 
was taken to another cell, to go thence to the guil- 
lotine. Her children were removed and of their fate 



MARIE ANTOINETTE 155 



she remained ignorant until her death. Two guards 
were stationed in her chamber day and night before 
whom she was forced to perform the most delicate 
operations of her toilette. There can be no doubt 
that she welcomed the summons to her trial and the 
inevitable call to execution on the 14th of October, 
1793. 

On the scaffold Marie Antoinette bore herself as 
every inch a queen. As was said of Charles I at his 
execution: 

She nothing common did, nor mean, 
Upon that memorable scene. 

Over the heads of the yelling crowd, past the group 
of cold, knitting women who sat in front at every 
execution, she looked with clear, calm eyes toward 
eternity. Her only words were for her children, 
"Adieu, adieu! Once again, my dear children. I go 
to rejoin your father." The axe fell, the headsman 
displayed the dripping head, the body was rudely 
thrown into the receptacle provided for it and the 
dynasty of the Bourbons was blotted out. The visitor 
to Paris may, if he will, see in the records of the Church 
of the Madeleine, built over the common grave of many 
victims of the guillotine, this entry: "For the coffin 
of the Widow Capet, seven francs." Thus simply 
was the daughter of one king, and the wife of another, 
interred. 



CHARLOTTE CORDAY 

(1769-179S) 
THE AVENGER OF MARIE ANTOINETTE 

STEWING in a great copper bathtub shaped like 
a wooden shoe, hoping to thus alleviate the tor- 
tures of a disease which would have put an end 
to his pestilential existence in but a few months, 
Marat, self-styled "Friend of the People," was handed 
a note from a young girl who wrote that she brought 
him news of plots and conspiracies against the republic 
from Caen. 

Scenting more blood, the ogre of the French revolu- 
tion, the chief figure of the Terror, who had declared 
that at least 270,000 heads must fall before the republic 
would be secure, directed her admission. 

The woman who entered was about twenty-four 
years old, with soft gray eyes, light brown hair, a face 
singularly gentle, a figure tall and slender. Her man- 
ner was timid and she shrank a little as the unkempt 
monster, who was busily writing on a board laid across 
his tub, growled out: 

"Your errand, citoyenne?" 

Briefly she told him that a number of deputies of 
France, members of the Girondist faction, then under 
suspicion of being reactionary, had taken refuge in 
Caen, where she, Charlotte Corday, resided. They 

(156) 




CIIAULOTTK COHDAY 

From the /xtintititf ''// ^' "'7/ 



CHARLOTTE CORDAY 157 



were plotting against the republic and raising an army 
for its overthrow. 

"Their names!" snarled Marat, writing them down 
as Charlotte repeated them. "They shall be guil- 
lotined within a week." 

"Guillotined!" cried Charlotte, who had been play- 
ing a part and adopted this pretext of betrayal to gain 
access to the revolutionist's presence. "My good 
friends guillotined!" And therewith she drew a long 
knife from her bodice and plunged it to the terrorist's 
heart. Death was almost immediate. He had but 
time to call in anguish, "A moi, ch&rie; a moi!" when 
he slid down into the bath which crimsoned with his 
blood. 

The woman whose aid Marat had summoned — an 
Amazon who served as housekeeper and something 
more to him — rushed in. Another domestic had 
knocked Charlotte down with a chair, and the Amazon 
trampled upon her fiercely, weeping the while, for 
with all his loathsomeness Marat had at least one to 
love him . The people of the neighborhood crowded 
in and for a time it seemed as though the girl would 
be torn to pieces, exactly the fate she coveted, for she 
had concealed from relatives and friends her trip to 
Paris and the purpose for which it was made. Her 
errand was to kill Marat. "It is better," she said, 
"that one should die than thousands." She hoped 
that, her deed once completed, she would be slain 
without identification, which might bring shame to 
her relatives. But officials were quickly on the scene 
and, protected from the assaults of the mob, she was 
taken to the prison of L/Abbaye. 



158 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

This slender girl who had done a deed of which 
doubtless tens of thousands of men in France had 
dreamed without courage to execute it, had practically 
but four days of history. She slew Marat on July 
13, 1793. July 17th her head fell into the basket. 

The story of her early life is as short and simple 
as the annals of the poor. Born at St. Saturnin in 
1769, left motherless at an early age, with a father 
too poor to take care of her, she was brought up by 
an aunt living in Caen, and given a convent education. 
Her beauty made her popular in the provincial city 
where she lived. Historians of a certain type have 
sought industriously for evidences of love affairs, but 
her mind in fact was literary rather than amative. 
Remotely descended from Corneille, the French poet 
and dramatist of heroism, she had steeped her intellect 
in his resonant phrases about patriotism and public 
service. Two other literary forces which appear, 
curiously, often in the records of the revolution made 
a great impression on her mind — Plutarch's "Lives" 
and the writings of Jean Jacques Rousseau. 

The story of Charlotte Corday's trial is brief. All 
trials were farces in the days of terror. Condemned 
without delay to death, she maintained her composure 
and on her return to her cell spent several hours sit- 
ting for her portrait to a young artist named Hauer. 

Through the streets, packed with a yelling, abusive 
Paris mob, the tumbril bearing her made its way. 
The scaffold she mounted fearlessly, and when the 
executioner sought to conceal the dread machine of 
death from her sight she courteously waved him aside 
and met her death in silence. They say that an as- 



CHARLOTTE CORDAY 159 

sistant caught up the severed head and displayed it 
to the crowd, striking a blow on the cheek at the 
same time. The sweet face flushed rosy red, say the 
contemporary writers, and though we doubt the tale 
as romance, we may well take it as illustrative of a 
life which, save for one brief moment, was all simplicity 
and purity. 

History sometimes works out its compensations. 
When Marat died he was the most powerful man in 
France, and Charlotte Corday the most execrated 
woman. But in two years the remains of Marat, 
which had been gloriously interred in the Pantheon, 
were ignominiously expelled from that temple of 
national fame, and portraits of Charlotte Corday 
began to appear in every Parisian house. 



EMPRESS JOSEPHINE 

(1763-1814) 
THE DISCARDED WIFE OF EMPEROR NAPOLEON 

PATHOS and melancholy enshrouded much of 
the life of the girl who came to be Empress 
Josephine, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, and 
was by him later discarded in the furtherance 
of his ambitions. Born in Martinique, the smiling 
West Indian island that had its laughter blotted out 
by the sulphurous blast of Mount Pel6e, she was 
educated mostly in France at the convent of Port 
Royal. At the age of sixteen she was married to the 
Viscount de Beauharnais, son of her father's superior 
officer in the French navy. It was purely a marriage 
de convenance. Both had had their early romances, 
and the viscount still clung to his, which, as in the 
case of so many youths, was a passion for a woman 
older than he. The object of Josephine's early affec- 
tion, however, had passed out of her environment, for, 
while he warmly reciprocated her affection, he had 
been forced to marry a girl selected for him as the 
price of an inheritance. Naturally enough, the sea 
of matrimony on which the Beauharnais pair embarked 
without affection proved tempestuous. The husband's 
gallantries were flagrant and notorious. 
The wife's love was hardly outraged by them, but 

(160) 




EMPRESS JOSEPHINE 

I'tutth r iuiI: /intra 



EMPRESS JOSEPHINE 161 

her pride was, and her reproaches were so constant 
and vehement that after eight years of married life, 
during which two children were born, the husband 
sought a divorce. The court exonerated Mme. Beau- 
harnais from any wrongdoing, but granted the separa- 
tion nevertheless, giving the son Eugene to the father 
and the daughter Hortense to the mother. 

Life was destined to bring strange gifts to the chil- 
dren thus separated in youth. Hortense became 
Queen of Holland, while Eugene in due time became 
viceroy of Italy. Their attainment of these exalted 
stations was due to the power of their stepfather, 
Napoleon, who conferred upon their mother the very 
loftiest honors and then, by divorcing her for reasons 
of state, plunged her into depths of despair. 

But I am anticipating. Parted from her first hus- 
band, the Viscomtesse de Beauharnais repaired for 
a time to the island of Martinique, but returning after 
two years became reconciled with him. These were 
the days just preceding the revolution, and Beau- 
harnais had thrown his influence strongly with the 
Girondists. He openly opposed the execution of King 
Louis XVT, which was perhaps the most perilous thing 
a man could do at that time. He held to his duty 
in the military service and was a valiant soldier in the 
army of the Rhine, but resigned after a brief campaign. 
Presently thereafter he was cast into prison, marked 
for execution and not long after sent to the guillotine. 
Josephine, too, was arrested and sent to a different 
prison. The task fell upon her one day to read aloud 
to the other prisoners the list of those executed, and 
among them she found the name of her husband. 

11 



162 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

With a shriek she fell senseless to the floor. But in 
that day of the Terror episodes of this sort had become 
commonplace to the wives and daughters imprisoned 
in the Conciergerie. Before long the new widow was 
restored to consciousness and to a sense of the duties 
still confronting her. 

It is proper to note that the early antagonism be- 
tween Josephine and her husband had been thoroughly 
assuaged before his death. Whether remarried or not 
they were reconciled, and their home had become a 
resort for all the best minds in Paris, when the baleful 
power of Robespierre descended upon it and sent the 
master to the guillotine. The wife would undoubtedly 
have followed, save that the downfall of Robespierre 
came so quickly that she was released before many 
more red carts rumbled the dismal way from the prison 
to the scaffold. 

Followed then a period of penury for the Beauharnais 
household. The son Eugene helped to support the 
family. Tallien, then a power in the government, 
which had little promise of stability, secured for her 
a small pension in partial recompense for her estates, 
which had been confiscated. Barras, the most infamous 
of the political powers of the day, took in her an 
interest which his memoirs do not describe as wholly 
brotherly. Talleyrand, whom Victor Hugo afterwards 
described as "a silk stocking filled with filth," became 
her friend. The fortunes that had sunk to so low an 
ebb during the Terror she had begun to recoup before 
she met the man who made her an empress. 

It was shortly after Napoleon, with that "whiff of 
grapeshot" of which Carlyle tells us, had dealt the 



EMPRESS JOSEPHINE 163 

revolution its first serious wound that Josephine and 
he met. She distrusted the young soldier who had 
shown himself so utterly indifferent to the basic prin- 
ciple beneath the revolution and set up his cannon 
as the final arbiters of right. Her distrust was wholly 
justifiable. From the day when Napoleon protected 
the convention with his artillery in the name of the 
republic to the time when he crowned himself emperor 
and divorced his wife to marry the daughter of the 
Austrian emperor, he was essentially the aristocrat. 
Like some American politicians he held the crowd 
with smooth words, but never failed to seek the great 
places for himself. 

Mme. Beauharnais reproached him with his needless 
massacre of the Parisian people, which was indeed one 
of the blackest blots on his escutcheon. "It is my 
seal that I have set on France," he answered with 
that calm confidence in his ultimate destiny that 
always characterized him. 

Disliking him at first, even ridiculing him, Josephine 
finally married the young soldier of fortune — younger 
than she was. Probably the sage advice of Barras 
and Talleyrand had something to do with this. They 
knew he was a coming man and wanted him to have 
a wife whom they also knew. Either Napoleon's 
persistence or the diplomacy of these politicians 
triumphed. In 1796, upon the news of his appoint- 
ment as commander-in-chief of the army in Italy, 
Napoleon and Josephine were married. Two days 
later he set out for Italy; Josephine remained behind, 
doing all in her power to maintain his political strength 
at home. 



164 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

At the moment that was not a difficult task. From 
Italy came nothing but reports of victory. Presently 
he summoned her to meet him there, and she made 
such hosts of friends by urging upon him mild methods 
in dealing with conquered states, that he said of her, 
"I conquer provinces; Josephine conquers hearts." 

This was the most fortunate period of Josephine's 
existence. Though her husband was often absent 
from her it was the fortune of war and might be ex- 
cused. If he was jealous — as indeed he was — that 
was the subtlest flattery dear to a woman's heart. 
She, however, influenced him greatly for good, per- 
suading him to heal the wounds inflicted by the revo- 
lution and to make France itself once more. But as 
he grew in power and station he lost affection for her. 
Ambition took the place of love. He who had been 
merely a soldier wanted to be the equal and the as- 
sociate of kings and emperors. Hortense, his step- 
daughter, was married to Louis Bonaparte, and the 
two given the throne of Holland— without the Hol- 
landers having anything to say on the subject. Na- 
poleon, after being elected first consul, finally crowned 
himself emperor and Josephine empress in the great 
church of Notre Dame, whose interior, now so chill 
and forbidding, was ablaze with the colors of rich 
hangings. Then they went to Milan, where in the most 
magnificent of all cathedrals the "Iron Crown of 
Ancient Lombardy" was placed in turn upon the brow 
of Napoleon and Josephine. Immediately thereafter 
Eugene de Beauharnais was appointed by Napoleon 
viceroy of Italy. 

Amid all these imperial glories the disquieting belief 



EMPRESS JOSEPHINE 165 

^ 1 

was forming in Josephine's mind that as her husband 
grew in grandeur his pride in her was diminishing. 
He had every reason for pride. The Martinique 
Creole had attained to all the personal dignity which 
should hedge about a queen and an empress. In her 
own magnificent villa of Malmaison she was a true 
chatelaine. In the various palaces he took for his 
residences she ruled like an empress. The Palais 
Royal was too small for his desires — though that 
memorial to the extravagance of an earlier king is 
bigger than any residence of an American captain of 
industry. Nothing short of the Tuileries would serve 
the Napoleonic purpose. Years afterwards the Paris 
commune set the torch to the Tuileries as the home 
of aristocracy, and to-day a public garden to which 
all may resort, occupies the site of the ancient palace 
which was kept for the luxury of the privileged few. 

At the Tuileries Napoleon began to manifest his 
newly developed royal tastes. He had his suite of 
apartments distinct from those of his wife, and began 
to practise that entire independence of moral rule 
which had been one of the reasons for the overthrow 
of the ancient regime. Nothing in history is more 
paradoxical than the singular fashion in which Napo- 
leon was able to cajole the populace. In their justifiable 
revolt against the Bourbons he took no part. When 
that revolt was upon the point of creating a true 
democracy he put it down with his cannon. Acclaimed 
then as the savior of the republic, he overthrew the 
republic, and yet held the friendship of the republicans. 
All the extravagances and follies of the kings whom 
the French people had destroyed he in turn com- 
mitted, yet remained the idol of France. 



166 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Kings "by divine right" married their children to 
the children of other kings. Napoleon having no 
children determined to ally himself with the royal 
families of Europe by wedding a princess. True he 
was already married, but to so great a potentate that 
was no bar. He determined to divorce Josephine, 
who had been not merely a tender but a most helpful 
wife to him. He claimed always that only the fact 
that she had given him no heir to the great empire 
he had conquered caused this determination. It is 
not for us to judge the motives which actuated him. 
Historians writing more nearly in his own time, Las 
Casas, Savary, Thiers, John S. C. Abbott, some of 
whom heard the story of the divorce from his own lips, 
accord to him the patriotic motive of avoiding future 
wars by providing an heir to the throne of France. 
Hostile writers aver that his main purpose was to raise 
himself from the position of an adventurer to that of 
one of the family of kings. At any rate, it must be 
conceded that no infatuation for another woman ani- 
mated him. Either devotion to the state or cold- 
blooded ambition for more royal standing was the 
cause of the divorce. 

With a woman's infallible intuition Josephine fore- 
saw what was coming. The separation of her apart- 
ments from those of the emperor was the first hint. 
His preoccupation when with her, his growing regard 
for royal etiquette, his increasing intimacy with the 
Austrian ambassador, whose imperial master had a 
daughter ready to succeed to the vacated quarters of 
Napoleon's wife, all served as warnings. 

When Napoleon came back from the famous victory 



EMPRESS JOSEPHINE 167 

of Wagram, in 1809, the act that he had in contempla- 
tion could no longer be concealed from the wife. 
Every little detail of their daily life indicated his pur- 
pose to set her aside and look for a wife more in accord 
by birth with the imperial dignity he had attained. 
Unfortunately for her, she seized this particular mo- 
ment to reproach him upon his infidelities — of which 
in common with most royal personages he was noto- 
riously guilty. Immediately he told of his determina- 
tion to divorce her. 

Volumes have been written about the swooning 
agony of Josephine; the noble wrath of her son 
Eugene, the tears and lamentations of Hortense. Not 
here can the details of the way in which the tidings 
were broken to Josephine or how she received them 
be told. If the narratives of Thiers and others of his 
school are reasonably accurate, there was rather more 
of hysterics than beseemed the occasion. But in the 
end with recurring dignity Josephine accepted the 
inevitable and also the palace of Malmaison, the title 
of Queen-Empress-Dowager and an allowance of about 
$600,000 a year. Eugene, who had cast his post of 
viceroy of Italy in the emperor's face at the first news 
of the divorce, thought better of it and returned to his 
duties and their emoluments, while Hortense, whom 
Napoleon had made Queen of Holland, remained to 
rule over that placid Dutch people who had accepted 
her without even wondering why she who had never 
seen Holland should be their sovereign. 

This may seem a cynical summary of the Napoleonic 
divorce. Over against it may be set the undoubted 
truths that so long as his power lasted Napoleon left 



168 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

nothing undone to show courtesy and honor to his 
discarded wife. Of her he wrote that "Josephine was 
truly a most lovely woman — refined, affable and charm- 
ing. She was the goddess of the toilet. . . . She 
was so kind, so humane — she was the most graceful 
lady and the best woman in France. She possessed 
the most perfect knowledge of the different shades of 
my character and evinced the most perfect tact in 
turning this knowledge to the best account." True, 
he married promptly the Austrian princess, Marie 
Louisa, who in due time gave him the wished-for son, 
but who was swift to desert him in the hour of his 
adversity. Josephine for her part, so far as history 
tells us, never wavered in affection and loyalty to him. 
They exchanged letters constantly, and while his were 
full of affection, hers gave him advice which if followed 
would have saved him many of his later vicissitudes. 

Curiously enough, the period of his descent from 
the glories of the Tuileries, to the last scene at St. 
Helena, began very shortly after the divorce. One 
who seeks to moralize might say with much plausibility 
that the hand of Heaven fell heavily upon the emperor 
as soon as he set aside his marriage vows. 

But his final disasters came too late for Josephine 
to witness. She lived indeed to know of the dis- 
astrous Russian campaign, and the retreat from Mos- 
cow. She lived, too, to learn of his abdication hardly 
four years after the divorce, and witnessed his exile 
to Elba. The very potentates that sent him thither 
treated her with respect and honor. Her health was 
breaking at the moment, and Emperor Alexander of 
Russia, who had written to and called upon her, sent 



EMPRESS JOSEPHINE 169 

his own physician to her aid, but to no avail. She 
died in the fifty-first year of her age, May 29, 1814, 
just four weeks after Napoleon reached Elba. 

Her two children were at her bedside, but seeing 
that she sought to indicate the lack of something for 
her comfort, finally brought a large portrait of Napo- 
leon and placed it in clear view. With an air of con- 
tent she fixed her eyes upon it and murmuring, "Island 
of Elba — Napoleon," passed^ away. 



HORTENSE BONAPARTE, QUEEN 
OF HOLLAND 

(1783-1837) 
A MILLINER'S APPRENTICE WHO BECAME A QUEEN 

HER father guillotined, her mother escaping 
the scaffold only by the downfall of Robes- 
pierre, subsequently the bride of Napoleon, 
Empress of the French and finally the world's 
most famous divorcee; herself a milliner's apprentice, 
later the Queen of Holland and sister-in-law toTthe 
great emperor; dethroned at last with the rest of the 
Napoleonic family and like them condemned to exile 
from France, Hortense Beauharnais, the adopted 
daughter of Napoleon, sounded in her life all the 
strings upon which fortune plays airs now joyous, then 
melancholy and sinister. 

Josephine Beauharnais, the mother, was living in 
Paris in needy circumstances toward the close of the 
revolution when Napoleon, then one of the generals 
of the army, who attracted attention by his courage 
in suppressing the mob and protecting the session of 
the National Assembly, sought her out and married 
her* About this marriage there has been endless 
controversy. She herself wrote to a friend that she 
did not love him, though she did not dislike him. 
Moreover, she wrote, "Barras assures me that if I 

(170) 



HORTENSE BONAPARTE 171 

marry the general he will get him appointed com- 
mander-in-chief of the Army of Italy." She did marry 
him and he was appointed. Out of her reference to 
Barras — who was a most influential member of the 
directory — sprung an historic scandal, for it is openly 
asserted that Napoleon's progress to power was ma- 
terially assisted by Barras in return for the favors of 
Napoleon's wife. 

At any rate, Josephine's marriage to Napoleon took 
Hortense out of the millinery shop and landed 'her 
in the school of Mme. de Campan, a former maid of 
honor to Marie Antoinette, who had begun teaching 
the accomplishments of the ancient regime to the 
daughters of the men who overthrew it. At sixteen 
the girl was beautiful, accomplished and amiable. 
By this time her stepfather was first consul, and for 
the moment resident in the Palace of the Luxembourg, 
where her own father had been imprisoned, and whence 
he was led out to execution. 

In the course of events Hortense met General Duroc, 
one of the most brilliant of Napoleon's generals, then 
but twenty-nine years old, with a record of gallant 
service behind him and high honors yet in store. The 
two speedily fell in love. But Napoleon, though 
really attached to Duroc, had by this time attained 
such station that he looked upon the marriages of his 
family as matters of state. He had become convinced 
that Josephine would never furnish him with an heir, 
and he had conceived the idea of marrying Hortense 
to his brother Louis, in the hope that an heir might 
thus be obtained uniting the Bonaparte and the Beau- 
harnais blood. Accordingly, he sent to Duroc this 



172^ WOMEN OF HISTORY 



callous message; "Tell him that if he weds my step- 
daughter he will have with her only a dowry of five 
or six hundred thousand francs, and that I shall give 
him an appointment which will necessitate his resi- 
dence at Toulon, whither he must take his wife, and 
that henceforth he and I are personally strangers to 
each other." 

The soldier in Duroc overcame the lover. He 
relinquished Hortense and was ever after thrust to 
the front by Napoleon until he died in battle. The 
forsaken girl was brokenhearted. To her the future 
became indifferent and she accepted without com- 
plaint the marriage to Louis Napoleon, who, for his 
part, was more averse to it. Perhaps in time they 
might have learned to love one another, for she was but 
nineteen and he twenty-three. But whispered scandal 
embittered their lives. The gossips had it that the 
emperor's eagerness for an heir of his own blood re- 
sulted in his bearing a nearer relationship to the child 
his brother's wife was expecting than that of uncle. 
But the child was born dead, and a second son to 
whom the emperor was devoted died of croup at an 
early age. 

All of Napoleon's plans to secure an heir, even his 
divorce of Josephine and marriage to the Austrian 
princess, miscarried. But perhaps it was as well. 
When the emperor died there was no longer an empire 
to bequeath. One son of Hortense and Louis did in- 
deed, after the lapse of nearly three-quarters of a 
century, become by usurpation emperor of the French, 
but only led that nation to the dire disaster of Sedan 
and the smash-up of 187L 



HORTENSE BONAPARTE 173 

The life of Hortense and Louis Napoleon was mis- 
erable in the extreme. The palace at The Hague, and 
the throne of Holland which the emperor gave to his 
brother, were to them a prison and a seat of torture. 
The king traveled alone over Europe; the queen 
frequented Paris and her mother's home at Malmaison. 

When the emperor divorced Josephine in order that 
he might ally himself matrimonially with the royal 
house of Austria, Louis Napoleon and Hortense be- 
sought him to allow them to end their troubles in the 
same way. The sublime egotist and arrant hypocrite 
refused. His own divorce and remarriage, he pointed 
out, were affairs of state. But his family, not being 
thus exalted, must not set to the world an example 
contrary to morals and of laxity in the marriage tie. 
So the two fettered ones remained man and wife, though 
living in complete separation. 

After Waterloo and the exile to St. Helena, Hor- 
tense, in common with all the Napoleonic family, was 
forbidden on pain of death to reside in French terri- 
tory. For a long time the allies, who held France, 
fearing that one of her Napoleonic sons might yet 
make trouble, harassed her, forcing her to move from 
place to place. But gradually this apprehension died 
out, and soon after the death of her eldest remaining 
son, who fell in a riot in Italy, she dared visit France 
and threw herself on the mercy of the reigning mon- 
arch, Louis Philippe. She was received with kindness, 
but the moment was ill-chosen. It was the 5th of 
May, the anniversary of Napoleon's death, when all 
Paris celebrated his fame. Her presence with her 
son, if known, might be as the torch to the magazine. 



174 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

So she was politely sped on her way to England and 
never again permitted to cross the French frontier. 

When the remains of the great emperor were brought 
back to Paris to rest under the gilded dome of the 
Invalides, Hortense and her son were at Baden. In- 
stantly it was determined that he should hasten to 
Paris and offer himself to the army as the successor 
to his uncle. It was a futile conspiracy, suppressed 
without a shot, and its leader hurried to a French 
frigate, which conveyed him to America, where he 
remained until recalled to Switzerland by the grave 
illness of his mother. ' 

That poor queen, without a crown, without a country, 
with three of her children dead and the fourth far away 
beyond the Atlantic, was indeed dying. Louis reached 
there in time to receive her dying blessing. But he 
was not allowed to follow her to the grave. The 
French government would receive her dead body, but 
not her living son. If her dead eyes could have looked 
into the future they would have seen that son she was 
obliged to leave at the frontier president of the French 
republic and emperor of the French. 



QUEEN LOUISE OF PRUSSIA 

(1776-1816) 
A nation's IMMORTAL IDOL 

IT is said that Gustav Richter in his well-known 
portrait of Queen Louise chose the moment when 
she was descending the stairs to meet the con- 
quering Napoleon at Tilsit and plead with him 
for mercy to stricken Germany. The expression on 
the beautiful face scarcely bears out this theory, but 
if it be well founded one does not wonder that Napo- 
leon said after the interview, "I knew that I should 
see a beautiful woman and a queen with dignified 
manners, but I found the most admirable queen and 
at the same time the most interesting woman I had 
ever met with." 

Auguste Wilhelmine Amalie Louise was born March 
10, 1776, in Hanover, where her father was field 
marshal of the household . brigade. Sorrow came 
early to her, for her mother died when she was but 
six years old and her aunt, whom her father married 
to provide care for his children, died fourteen months 
after the marriage. The child was thus left mother- 
less twice before her ninth year. As a result she 
furnishes a rather serious, or as one might say, old- 
fashioned, type of childhood. It was the practice 
then to have real footmen who ran beside the state 

(175) 



176 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

carriage keeping pace with the steeds, however sharp 
the gait. Louise learned that the father of one of her 
little playmates was so straining himself by this exer- 
tion that his life was in jeopardy. Weeping, she told 
her grandmother that she could never again ride with 
pleasure in the carriage if those poor men were forced 
to race alongside, and for the first time in court circles 
the custom was abandoned. 

i In 1793, being at Frankfort, Louise met the crown 
prince, Frederick William of Prussia. She was then 
seventeen years old, blue eyed, fair haired, tall, grace- 
ful, with a beautiful complexion and a frank, natural 
maimer. With the crown prince it was a case of 
love at first sight. "I felt when I first saw her ' 'tis 
she or none on earth/ " said he later, quoting a phrase 
from Schiller. The twain were married in Berlin on 
Christmas eve, 1793, and lived together a life all too 
short but always full of love. Their bodies rest side 
by side in a stately mausoleum at Charlottenberg, 
under beautifully carved recumbent statues. 

Louise was crown princess of Prussia, resident at 
the court in Berlin. This station was hers for five 
years, during which period she made herself widely 
beloved of her subjects. Her manners were demo- 
cratic. A count and a cobbler being at the same 
time waiting in her anteroom, she said, "Show in the 
shoemaker first; his time is more valuable than the 
count's." 

Once, when queen, she was doing some Christmas 
shopping and was recognized at a counter by a woman 
who instinctively stepped respectfully aside. "Do not 
go away, my dear woman/' said the queen, "What 



QUEEN LOUISE OF PRUSSIA 177 

will the shopkeeper say if we drive away his cus- 
tomers?" Then learning that the woman had a boy 
at home about the age of her eldest, she handed her 
a number of toys, saying, "Take these toys and give 
them to your crown prince in the name of mine." 

In 1797 the old king, Frederick William II, died 
and Louise and her husband came into their kingdom. 
When they entered upon their reign Napoleon was 
just beginning his bloody struggle upward to imperial 
power. Prussia had kept out of war since the days 
of Frederick the Great and sincerely desired continued 
immunity. In 1805 Napoleon was crowned emperor 
— or rather crowned himself — and straightway began 
war against Russia. Treaties seemed to secure the 
neutrality of Prussia, but the impetuosity of Napo- 
leon overrode all written agreements and Prussia was 
at last unwillingly forced into the field. Whenever 
King Frederick reviewed his troops Queen Louise rode 
beside him; when the whole army took the field she 
accompanied it. The troops adored her. The generals 
begged that she would remain with them as an in- 
spiration to the men. "Her presence with us is quite 
necessary," said General Kalkreuth. 

Day after day the fortunes of war ran against the 
Prussians. At Jena and at Auerstadt they were cut 
to pieces. The French were in Berlin and the queen 
was forced to take refuge in flight. Once she narrowly 
escaped capture and the fact was reported to Napoleon. 
"Ah," said he, "that would have been well done, for 
she has caused the war." 

The assertion was untrue, but nevertheless the 
queen, once embarked upon the war, opposed stren- 

12 



178 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

uously any unworthy surrender. All Prussia was 
dazed by Napoleon's success. Town after town sur- 
rendered. Men of the highest position counseled sub- 
mission to Napoleon. But in the desperate and bloody 
battle of Friedland the French suffered so severely 
that an armistice proposed by Alexander of Russia 
was agreed to by Napoleon. 

The terms of peace were discussed on a raft anchored 
in the river at Tilsit that the three negotiators, Napo- 
leon, Alexander, and Frederick, might be literally in 
no-man's land. Napoleon, though courteous to the 
Russian emperor, showed from the first a purpose 
to crush Frederick. The latter in despair sent for his 
wife to come to his aid. Bursting into tears on receiving 
his message, she exclaimed, "This is the most painful 
sacrifice that I can make for my people." And in her 
diary she wrote concerning the interview with Napo- 
leon: "God knows what a struggle it cost me. For 
although I do not hate the man, yet I look upon him 
as the author of the unhappiness of the king and his 
people. I admire his talents. I do not like his char- 
acter, which is obviously treacherous and false. It 
will be hard for me to be polite and courteous with 
him; still, the effort is demanded and I must make 
the sacrifice." , 

Out of the conference the beauty and wit of Queen 
Louise could extract nothing. Particularly did she 
fight to save for Prussia the fortress of Magdeburg,' 
but Napoleon would abate nothing of the demands of 
the conqueror. Talleyrand, slyest of diplomats, was 
fearful of her influence upon his master. "Sire," 
said he, "shall posterity say that you have not profited 



QUEEN LOUISE OF PRUSSIA 179 

by your great conquests because of a beautiful woman?" 
In the end the treaty of Tilsit cost Prussia one half 
her territory and a war indemnity of about $112,500,000. 
It also compelled the reduction of the Prussian army to 
42,000 men. 

After Tilsit all efforts were bent on building up the 
shattered country and meeting the war debt. The 
gold dinner service of Frederick the Great was coined 
into money. The queen sold all her jewels save a 
chaplet of pearls. "They betoken tears," she said, 
"and I have shed so many." The royal household 
lived as simply as ordinary citizens. A Russian 
diplomat after a night at the king's house said, "Not 
a thousand court feasts with golden uniforms and stars 
would I take in exchange for the memory of that 
night. A queen sits at a poorly furnished table that, 
like herself, is divested of all external adornments, 
but her grace, beauty and dignity shine all the 
brighter." 

But to the idyllic life of this royal pair death came 
as it comes to less elevated and less happy households. 
July 19, 1810, in the presence of her husband Queen 
Louise died after but a brief illness. "The king has 
lost his best minister," said Napoleon when he heard 
the news. "Our saint is in heaven," said the grim 
General Blucher, then foremost of the Prussian soldiers. 
Somehow one likes to think of that grizzled warrior 
when four years later, after having dealt the coup de 
grace to Napoleon at Waterloo, he dragged his guns 
to the top of the frowning hill of Montmartre, and as 
he stood looking down on Paris humbled beneath him, 
said in triumph, "Louise is avenged." 



CATHERINE DE MEDICI 

(1519-1589) 
A ROYAL DISPENSER OF POISONS 

THE earnest women who, in England and the 
United States, are striving for so much of a 
share in the government as is conferred by 
the right to vote may find an argument ready 
to hand in the fact that in the latter half of the six- 
teenth century practically all Europe was governed 
by women. England was ruled by Elizabeth; Scot- 
land by Mary Stuart ; Portugal by the Infanta, 
daughter of Eleanor; Navarre by Queen Jane; the 
Low Countries by the natural daughter of Charles 
V; Spain by Isabella of Aragon; and France by 
Catherine de Medici. In instances, it is true, they 
ruled through men— but none the less they ruled. 

Catherine de Medici was one of the powerful women 
of history. If the phrase "great woman" can be 
used of one who though grossly superstitious, habitually 
untruthful, utterly callous and cruel, brazenly treach- 
erous and wholly without moral sense, accomplished 
great things, then indeed she was truly great. She 
could order the Massacre of St. Bartholomew and 
listen unmoved to the cries of the victims, yet would 
be thrown into an agony of terror by the prophecies 
of a soothsayer or astrologer. Without hating Prot- 

(180) 



CATHERINE DE MEDICI 181 



estantism she was guilty of the slaughter of tens of 
thousands of Huguenots for a political end; and with- 
out conviction of the truths of Catholicism was capable 
of posing as the greatest champion of that faith. She 
had many of the qualities of her grandfather, Lorenzo 
the Magnificent, who gave to Florence the character- 
istics of a cradle of genius, and she herself strove in 
every way to encourage in the bloody and barbarous 
Paris of her time the arts of painting, sculpture, music 
and literary expression. She secured crowns for four 
of her sons and is suspected of having poisoned two 
of them — the Medici family is famous for the deadly 
drop in the crystal vial. 

This woman, grandniece to a pope and a member 
of the greatest Italian family of the Renaissance, 
appeared on the horizon of France first in 1533 when 
she was married with much splendor at Marseilles to 
the young Duke of Orleans, afterwards Henry II. 
Her uncle, Pope Clement VII, had in person conducted 
her to the city and given her a bridal portion of 300,000 
crowns. Though but fourteen, she had been highly 
educated and was not without experience of vicissi- 
tudes. Only a few months before, being unfortunately 
caught in Florence during one of that city's periodical 
outbreaks, she was confronted with the possible fate 
of being immured as a "white slave" in a Florentine 
den, or hung up in a crate over the walls as a target 
for artillery. While her captors were wrangling over 
this choice of ways of expressing their disapproval of 
the Medici family, she was rescued. jj 

Her husband, having no particular affection for the 
thin, pale little girl tossed him by diplomacy for a 



182 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

bride, consoled himself with Diane de Poitiers, who 
was old enough to be his wife's mother, but charming 
withal. Catherine at once showed that despite her 
youth she had tact, and knew how to wait for what 
she wanted. Like all Italians of the ruling class, she 
had studied her Macchiavelli well, and followed^his 
cheerful advice to cringe, he, betray, deceive until 
the moment for action should arrive, then strike with- 
out compunction. She yielded her husband to his 
mistress, the sprightly Diane, without complaint and 
even refrained from twitting that lady on her age- 
To the mistress of the king, her father-in-law, the 
Duchesse d'Estampes, and to the monarch himself 
she was particularly affectionate — a bit of diplomacy 
which served her in good stead later. For she had 
no children during the first ten years of her married 
life — though ten came to her later — and her husband 
proposed to divorce her. But the king would not 
listen to the banishment of the little Florentine who 
used to accompany him on his maddest hunting gal- 
lops, taking occasional falls without complaint. It 
may be noted in passing that she first devised the form 
of side saddle now in use. 

When the old king Francis I died, the husband of 
Catherine ascended the throne with the title of Henry 
II. He had the title, but Diane had the power and 
through him ruled France according to her whims. 
Catherine went quietly along, studying the ways of 
this remarkable court and biding her time. Beneath 
her calm exterior was a haughty and violent soul, 
but to the eye her demeanor was as placid as a blue 
lake held in place by a fragile dam. This dam broke 



CATHERINE DE MEDICI 183 

when Henry II, playing at tournament during his 
daughter's wedding festivities, received a lance thrust 
through his vizor full into his brain and fell dead on 
the field of pleasure. 

Then began the period of power for Catherine de 
Medici. Her son, now Francis II, was too young 
to reign, being only sixteen, though already married 
to Mary Queen of Scots. Mis mother became regent. 
Her first act was to strip Diane de Poitiers of the 
crown jewels and send her into exile. But Catherine's 
power was not yet complete. The young king was 
indeed complaisant enough, but his wife, Mary Stuart, 
was beginning to show that talent for intrigue and 
"big pohtics" which she manifested all her fife. The 
young queen's advisers were the Cardinal Lorraine, 
by whom she had been educated, and the Duke de 
Guise, the same who fatuously counseled her to claim 
the throne of England, thus proclaiming her cousin 
Elizabeth a bastard. 

Again Catherine resorted to diplomacy. Hating 
de Guise as she did, she nevertheless made him one 
of her advisers. It was at this time there occurred 
the so-called conspiracy of Amboise which was put 
down with a hard and a bloody hand. In the execu- 
tions which followed the conspiracy she showed for 
the first time her bloodthirsty spirit. The ladies of 
the court, her own children, herself even, made holiday 
of these horrors and gazed down upon the bloody 
execution ground. 

The reign of her eldest son was a source of worry 
to Catherine, who saw clearly the growing domination 
of Mary Stuart, to whom he was passionately devoted, 



184 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

and who in turn was dominated by Cardinal Lorraine 
and the Duke de Guise. But presently the brow of 
the queen regent was observed to clear; her disposi- 
tion to brighten once more. It appears that her favorite 
astrologer had predicted the speedy death of Francis. 
The prospect of unlimited power quite overcame any 
material sorrow she might feel in the pending death 
of her eldest son. It was hinted indeed that she made 
the astrologer's prediction doubly sure by a dose of 
poison for which her family was famous. At any 
rate, Francis died after a reign of scarcely a year. 
Mary was packed off to Scotland lest she should marry 
the child king Charles IX, who was quite ready. And 
Catherine again assumed the reign of power with a 
long period as queen regent before her. 

The absolute power to which Catherine had attained, 
for the young king was but ten years old, brought 
with it problems which might baffle the wisest ruler. 
The religious war raging in France between the Cath- 
olics and the Huguenots was in effect a civil war and 
was waged with almost unparalleled savagery. Not 
handicapped by religious convictions of her own, the 
regent wavered between the two parties. In the 
end, however, the excesses of the Huguenots turned 
her toward the Catholics. We of the United States 
are apt to judge the French Huguenots from the dis- 
tressed exiles who sought our shores and founded 
Charleston among other cities. We are familiar with 
Boughton's poetic picture of "The Huguenot /Lovers" 
fleeing from a murderous pursuit. But as a matter 
of fact these Protestants were not themselves free from 
the odor of blood and the taint of vandalism. Beyond 



CATHERINE DE MEDICI 185 

any question the first project of Catherine was to 
make France a Protestant nation as Henry VIII had 
done with England. Her purpose was diverted first 
by the anti-national alliance of the Huguenots with 
England; second by their savagery and vandalism 
when they sacked cathedrals, burned or wrecked the 
artistic relics of the middle ages and even defiled the 
tombs of the venerable dead. 

The regent first showed her hand against the Hugue- 
nots by repudiating the treaty they had made with 
England, and by leading in person the armies that 
drove the invading English back across the channel. 
At the siege of Rouen she led the besiegers, directing 
the attack with masculine vigor. It is curious to 
remember that this warrior queen, whose courage rose 
superior to cannon balls and musketry, was still of 
so superstitious a sort that she believed her safety 
was assured by wearing on her breast the skin of a 
baby, whose throat had been cut, adorned with mys- 
terious characters in diverse colors! 

With the English driven from the coasts of Nor- 
mandy, the regent turned again to consideration of 
the war between the factions in France. Just when 
she turned from the Huguenots to the Catholics is 
difficult to tell. Probably the assassination of the 
Duke of Guise, whose power she had always dreaded, 
was the starting point of her new policy. However, 
she continued to play fast and loose with both parties, 
and not until 1572 did she irrevocably inscribe her 
name in blood on the Catholic side by ordering the 
Massacre of St. Bartholomew. 
y Nominally that colossal crime was ordered by the 



186 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

King, Charles IX, but in fact that youthful weakling 
was forced by his mother, sorely against his will, to 
sign the paper directing the murder of every Huguenot 
in Paris, however peaceful their vocations or however 
far they might be removed from the intrigues of the 
Protestant party. Bitterly did Charles repent his act. 
His remorse seized upon him when his nerveless fingers 
laid down the pen with which he signed the proclama- 
tion, and never left him until his death gasp, which 
was materially advanced by the nervous collapse that 
followed this frightful atrocity. Gladly would he 
have recalled the paper and canceled the license to 
slay, but his dragon mother stayed close at his side 
and he dared not oppose her will. She even ordered 
the tocsin — the signal for the massacre — rung three 
hours before the time fixed lest she be unable to hold 
his wavering determination firm. There is a story 
that she even had loaded muskets put in the room of 
the Louvre whence he watched the carnage and en- 
couraged him to take a cowardly shot at bleeding 
fugitives as they ran past. 

The tale of St. Bartholomew is a story for a volume, 
not for a brief sketch. For three days the gutters of 
old Paris ran crimson with human blood, and the 
leaning walls of the narrow streets, now swept away 
by progress, reverberated with the curses of combat- 
ants and the cries and moans of the dying. Every 
Huguenot found on the streets was done to death, 
every known Huguenot house was sacked and neither 
gray hairs nor infancy spared. The red wrath rolled 
into the palace of the king, to the very ante-chamber 
of the cold-hearted woman who had plotted this colos- 



CATHERINE DE MEDICI 187 

sal crime. One man threw himself, all bloody, on the 
bed of her daughter Marguerite, who protected him 
with her body. Some forty Huguenots were lodged 
in the Louvre. All were driven with sword stabs to 
the windows, where they were thrown to the savage 
soldiery. The men who drove them to their death 
were men with whom but a few hours earlier they had 
been dicing or chatting in amity. No one knows 
how many were slain in those three bloody days. 
The estimates, which are many, vary between 10,000 
and 30,000. 

The iron nerve of the queen regent never broke 
under the responsibility for this massacre, but her 
son Charles IX never lived down the memory of his 
part in it. Ghosts waited beside his bed. Dying 
wails sounded in the stilly watches of the night. To 
his physician, Ambrose Parr, he said, "I know not what 
has happened to me these two or three days past, 
but I feel my mind and body as much at enmity with 
each other as if I was seized with fever. Sleeping or 
waking, the murdered Huguenots seem ever present 
to my eyes with ghastly faces and weltering in their 
blood. I wish the innocent and helpless had been 
spared." 

Catherine died in 1589, her death being hastened 
by the assassination of the Duke of Guise, whom her 
son Henry III had done to death. "You have slain 
the Due de Guise/' she cried in horror. "Take care 
that his death does not render you king of nothing!" 
The wily old politician read the future better than 
any of her astrologers, for within a few months Henry 
too was assassinated and the Valois dynasty for which 



188 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

she had plotted, intrigued, lied, made war and done 
murder was extinguished. 

Was Catherine de Medici great? ^She was active, 
brave, resourceful, unscrupulous and cold-hearted. 
She worked always according to her light for the 
advancement of France and of her family. But of 
her works little save the freedom of France from 
British rule persists. Religious toleration abides 
where she stirred up religious strife and the Palace 
of the Tuileries she built as a monument to her grand- 
son, the people tore down as a monument to oppres- 
sion and aristocratic infamy. 




MADAME ROLAND 

Painter unknown, 



MADAME ROLAND 

(1754-1793) 
PRIESTESS OF THE REVOLUTION 

TO certain great figures in history is allotted 
the fate of being known more by some phrase 
uttered at a moment of supreme trial than by 
all that may have been tried and done during 
a life of devotion. 

More people remember Mme. Roland because of 
her words on the platform of the guillotine, "0 
Liberty! what crimes have been committed in thy 
name!" than can tell of the earnest, intellectual work 
which, during her brief lifetime, she did to establish 
that liberty which in the end proved her undoing. 

Born of an artistic family — her father was an en- 
graver of slender means— this girl became one of the 
greatest factors in the French Revolution, dominated 
the government of France for a time, fell from power 
because of a chance remark and died under the knife 
of the guillotine. Thirty-nine years was the full 
measure of her life. That part of it engaged in political 
activity scarcely exceeded ten. The period of her 
struggle and her martyrdom coincides closely with 
the days of our early struggle for independence and 
then national unity. It was in 1776 that she first 
became recognized as a force in the revolutionary 

(189) 



190 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

propaganda; it was in 1793, when we were first or- 
ganizing under our constitution, that her head fell. 

For that fierce strife which swept the French mon- 
archy and aristocracy down into bloody demolition 
she was prepared both by the conditions of her child- 
hood and by her early reading. Her father, unsuccess- 
ful despite admitted talent, was in the habit of in- 
veighing against the follies and privileges of the aristoc- 
racy — an aristocracy probably more profligate and 
heartless than any known to history. She absorbed 
the spirit of revolt before it became audible in the 
streets of Paris. Her reading, too, was of a sort to 
stimulate the spirit of liberty. 

In that day the doubtful boon of floods of "juvenile" 
books was denied to children, and Marie-Jeanne Phlipon 
at nine years of age was reading Plutarch's "Lives" 
and bemoaning her fate because she had not been 
born a Roman. Jean Jacques Rousseau, the philos- 
opher and literary advance agent of the revolution, 
also exerted a powerful influence upon her young 
mind. 

As she approached womanhood her father, embit- 
tered and made desperate by a long record of failure 
in speculation, took refuge in dissipation. The girFs 
mother was dead. Her father squandered her dowry 
and refused his consent to her marriage to a certain 
Roland de la Platiere, whom she had met through a 
letter of introduction from a girl friend of her earlier 
days at the convent. In grief she sought the solace 
of a nunnery. 

Fate, however, intervened — that fate that was to 
make of her an instrument in the overthrow of a rotten 



MADAME ROLAND 191 

monarchy and send her at last to the guillotine. M. 
Roland was not wholly discouraged by the opposition 
of M. Phlipon. He continued to press his suit. He 
was a gentleman of wealth and practical leisure, though 
he held the well paid sinecure of inspector of manu- 
factures. His personality appealed to her intellect 
rather than to her love. She herself said about him: 
"He was a man fond of ancient history, and more 
like the ancients than the moderns; about seven and 
forty years old, stooping and awkward, and with 
manners respectable rather than pleasing." 

The young girl had not been without suitors before 
M. Roland appeared upon the scene. But it is quite 
evident that her affections were swayed by her intel- 
lect. There was nothing according to contemporary 
chroniclers about Roland that was physically attrac- 
tive. One writer describes him as "a tall, meagre, 
rigorous gentleman of a sallow complexion and scant 
hair about the temples, but with the unmistakable 
stamp of character about him. He had the air and 
manners of a scholar, was careless in his dress and 
spoke in an unmodulated voice." 

Nevertheless, Mademoiselle Phlipon at the age of 
twenty-five married M. Roland. It was no marriage 
of love on her part, but rather one of respect, and 
after the fashion of the France of that day, it ended 
in her finding an "affinity" in the person of one Henri 
Buzot, who was her devoted servitor until the day of 
her death. Perhaps her essentially revolutionary 
spirit was best shown by what she wrote in her diary 
on her wedding day about husbands: "I could make 
a model of a man I could love, but it would be shat- 
tered the moment he became my master." 



192 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Shortly after her marriage the agitation which 
brought on the French Revolution began. Ours is 
an age of newspapers; that was an age of personal 
correspondence. It closely paralleled the period of 
our own revolution when the letters from the Adamses, 
Jefferson, Hamilton and the allied patriots accom- 
plished what to-day we rely upon newspapers to per- 
form. 

Her political correspondence was voluminous. So, 
too, was that of men like Bosc, Soullieres, Isthume and 
members of the Gironde. It may be noted here that 
Bosc, though not her lover, made his way into her 
cell before her execution, strove to save her life, but 
was forced to abandon the effort. He saved her jour- 
nal, and by concealing it in a cave at Rheims preserved 
it for posterity. 

Mme. Roland won high prominence in the revolu- 
tionary movement. She threw her lot with the Girond- 
ists, who might be called to-day the conservative 
revolutionists; they urged the establishment of the 
republic, but opposed the Terror. Her salon, how- 
ever, was open to representatives of all schools of 
revolution. Robespierre was there often, and it is 
a matter of history that after earnest conversation 
with Mme. Roland he would proceed to the National 
Assembly and in language of which he was usually 
incapable advance political theories so elevated as 
to be looked upon as above his comprehension. In 
the end it was Robespierre who sent Mme. Roland 
to the scaffold, although she herself, aided by her 
cher ami Buzot, had once saved his own head against 
the protest of those who knew his nature. 



MADAME ROLAND 193 

From the very moment that the murmurs of revolu- 
tion began to be heard. Monsieur and Madame Roland 
were in the thick of the fight. At first their activities 
werQ in Lyons, M. Roland's home, but he was soon 
elected a representative to the National Assembly 
and removed to Paris. There his young and enthusi- 
astic wife attended meetings of the assembly, wrote 
articles for the newspapers, and wrote also, it is said, 
her husband's speeches and state papers. When the 
Austrians massed their troops on the frontier prepara- 
tory to invading France, headed by the aristocrats 
who had fled from France, she wrote so powerful an 
appeal to the king, urging him to declare war alike on 
the emigrants and their allies, that the monarch 
straightway removed M. Roland from office. 

Had Louis XVI heeded Mme. Roland's advice he 
might — almost certainly would — have saved his crown 
and head. 

The revolution progressed. M. Roland, a man of 
wealth and the descendant of a distinguished family, 
fell under suspicion and was arrested. It was a mo- 
ment when the possession of a luxurious house and 
the enjoyment of a comfortable income were regarded 
as evidences of sympathy with the aristocracy and 
the song "Les aristocrats a la lanterne" (meaning 
hang them to the street lamps) was the popular dog- 
gerel of the day. The Gironde was moderate. It 
had indeed acquiesced in the vote by which Louis 
XVI and Marie Antoinette were put to death, but it 
fought the sanguinary programme of Robespierre and 
Marat. The latter were conniving to destroy Mme. 
Roland on the plea that she was attempting to arouse 

13 



194 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

the southern arrondissements of France against Paris 
— that Paris which was wallowing in a sea of blood 
and which was utterly unable to defend itself against 
a foreign invasion should one come. 

So in the end she was arrested at her home and 
cast into one of the dungeons of the conciergerie. Her 
cell was at least five feet below the level of the Seine, 
and seepage made it damp and unhealthful. It was 
here that Mme. Roland wrote her u Memoirs" in the 
remarkably short period of twenty-eight days. 

Those who have read Charles Dickens' "A Tale 
of Two Cities," or have seen the play founded upon 
it and presented under the title "The Only Way," 
will be interested to know that a woman sought to 
essay the role of Sidney Carton and go to the guil- 
lotine in place of Mme. Roland. 

Earlier in this chapter I referred to the friends she 
had made in the convent. Among these was Hen- 
riette Cannet, who had been the active agent in in- 
troducing M. Roland to his wife. Now that the latter 
was in imminent peril of death, this devoted friend 
came to the prison with the proposition that the twain 
change clothes; that Mme. Roland leave the cell and 
that Henriette should remain to suffer the death 
penalty. 

"I was a widow," wrote Henriette, "without chil- 
dren, whilst my friend had a husband and a daughter. 
What more natural than that I should expose my 
life to save hers? My prayers and tears availed 
nothing. 'They will kill you/ she continually repeated. 
'Your blood will be set back against me. Better suffer 
a thousand deaths myself than to reproach myself 
with y ours. ' " 



MADAME ROLAND 195 

In the prison of the conciergerie this woman of 
refinement and intellectual attainments was incar- 
cerated in company with women of the slums and of 
the demi-monde. Du Barry, the dethroned courtesan 
and favorite of Louis XV, and the wife of Roland 
slept under the same roof, though not at the same 
moment. It is a matter of history that so great was 
the ascendency of Mme. Roland over the baser of 
her sex that her mere presence stilled the riots and 
the orgies of those who, facing death, set conventions 
and propriety aside. 

Before the tribunal presided over by Fouquier Tin- 
ville, with the malignant David as chief prosecutor, 
she maintained herself with dignity and courage. 
There was no question as to the hostility of the court 
which she confronted. Time and again she was told 
not to display her wit, but answer all questions with 
a mere yes or no. In the end she was convicted of 
plotting against the republic and sentenced to death. 

There was brief delay in that era of terror between 
sentence and execution. A scant twelve hours after 
the court had condemned her to the guillotine this 
refined woman was standing in one of the rough carts 
on the way to the place of execution. This was then 
known as the Place de la Revolution, now the Place 
de la Concorde, and an obelisk from Egypt stands 
where the guillotine once did its murderous work. 
Facing the guillotine was a colossal statue of liberty 
modeled in clay — a fitting material in which to typify 
the liberty of Marat and Robespierre. It was turning 
to this that she delivered the epigram quoted earlier 
in this chapter, 



196 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

With her in the lumbering red tumbril there rode 
an old man with hoary locks. Though his span of 
life was naturally nearing its end, he looked on the 
guillotine with pitiful terror. Mme. Roland sought 
to save him the horror of seeing other executions 
before his own. As her executioner seized her arm 
to lead her up the steep steps she checked him. 
"Stay," she said, "I have only one favor to ask. 
I beseech you to grant it to me." Turning to the 
old man she continued, "Do you precede me to the 
scaffold; to see my blood flow would be making you 
suffer the bitterness of death twice over. I must 
spare you the pain of witnessing my punishment." 
For a moment the executioner demurred, but her 
pleading gaze moved him and the change was made. 

Witnesses recorded, and physiologists admit the 
probability, that the average man sent to the guil- 
lotine was so affrighted by the prospect of death that 
but little blood dripped from his severed neck. It 
had congealed about his heart. This woman's courage 
was so great that none of the functions of her body 
failed her, and the drop of the blade was followed by 
two great gushes of blood. 

I have said that her marriage was one of respect 
rather than of love, but when M. Roland heard of 
her execution he went into a forest, drew a sword 
from his cane, and fixing it against a tree, drove it 
through his heart. Buzot, her devoted friend, lost 
his reason and wandering into a wilderness was devoured 
by wolves. 




QUEEN VICTORIA 



QUEEN VICTORIA 

(1819-1902) 

THE MOST SPLENDID MONARCH OF THE NINETEENTH 

CENTURY 

CALL it coincidence if you will, or make it the 
basis of a serious political argument if you 
prefer, the fact exists that during the three 
most glorious epochs of English history the 
crown was worn by a woman. The Elizabethan era, 
the "days of Good Queen Anne," and the Victorian 
epoch are the periods of England's greatest grandeur. 
Not in one but in many, perhaps in all the lines of 
human endeavor, the progress of the English people 
during these reigns made all that had gone before 
seem sluggish. In literature, in exploration and con- 
quest, in commerce and the industrial arts, and above 
all in the political thought that leads Great Britain 
ever nearer to pure democracy the record of these 
queenly regimes stands unapproached and unapproach- 
able. 

In her sixty-four years on the throne Victoria saw 
Great Britain grow from a kingdom to an empire. 
More than twelve million square miles and a popu- 
lation estimated at 240,000,000 came under British 
rule while she was queen. Though Australia and New 
Zealand were part of the British empire at her acces- 

(197) 



198 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



sion, their actual settlement and development was 
under her, and to a great extent the same thing is 
true of British North America. When she was crowned 
it took months for her Foreign Office to communicate 
with her most distant possessions. When she died 
the news was flashed over mountains and under oceans 
to the very antipodes in a few seconds. She saw the 
stage coach give place to the locomotive; the wooden 
ship with towering sails of snowy canvas to the lean 
ocean greyhound of steel feeding on coal from British 
mines. In her youth cottagers spun and wove the 
fabrics worn by the people; in her advanced years 
great cities grew up wherever water power or cheap 
coal would drive the whirling bobbins and clanking 
looms in great factories where thousands of women 
worked. Electricity was a curiosity, a mystery and 
a toy in her youth; man's most serviceable slave in 
her age. 

Mankind progressed in brotherly love while she 
reigned at Windsor. Child labor was regulated, if 
not wholly prohibited; women were no longer per- 
mitted to work in mines; the negro, however savage, 
was free wherever the British flag waved; her ships 
were the chief factors in suppressing the African slave 
trade on the high seas and her influence was thrown 
on the side of the anti-slavery forces in our own war 
between the states. In the main her voice was always 
for peace; though once embroiled in war, she never 
sought peace save with honor. If she stood by while 
the ruling classes of England with a heavy hand 
blotted out the Dutch republics of South Africa, she 
at least aided in giving to the conquered a share in 



QUEEN VICTORIA 199 



the new governments erected, so that, at this writ- 
ing, one of the most successful of the Boer generals 
is prime minister of the chief colony. It is as though 
we had made Aguinaldo governor-general of the 
Philippines. 

i Queen Victoria was the granddaughter of George 
III, who died insane, and the niece of George IV 
and of his brother William IV who succeeded him. 
The promotors of the modern science — or fad — of 
eugenics may find in her something of an argument 
for their theories. For she was in a sense bred for 
the throne. In the latter days of the reign of George 
III British statesmen awoke to the fact that there 
were but few royal heirs. That king had been prolific 
enough as a parent, but death, refusal to marry or 
failure to have children reduced the number of direct 
heirs to three — the Dukes of Clarence, Kent and Cam- 
bridge. For the good of the nation, therefore, these 
princes were obliged to marry straightway and pro- 
duce progeny lest the succession to the throne should 
fail. All dutifully performed this patriotic service, 
in part at least, but it was the fortune of the Duke of 
Kent, who married a German widow, the Princess of 
Leiningen, to furnish the successor to the throne. 
When his daughter was born there were four fives 
between her and the crown — all four were blotted out 
before she had entered her nineteenth year. 

The baby who was to be Queen was baptized Alex- 
andria Victoria. In youth she was called "Drina," 
for the British public in one of its fits of insularity 
thought the name "Victoria" too foreign. The ob- 
jection seems curious to-day when to call a thing 



200 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Victorian is as much as to label it British. Her father 
was one of England's least admirable princes; a failure 
in life, he died so overwhelmed by debt that in his 
last days he vainly begged parliament for authority 
to dispose of his estate by lottery for the benefit of 
his creditors. His widow, though Duchess of Kent 
and Princess of Leiningen, was essentially a German 
hausfrau, stolid and thrifty. She could not even 
speak English and bewailed her fate, being, as she 
said, "friendless and alone in a country not her own." 

The dominating forces in Victoria's life were strongly 
German. Aside from the Teutonic element in her 
father's family, her mother was wholly German, her 
governess a German baroness, her husband a German 
prince, her counselor until the day of his death, the 
German King of the Belgians. In her descendants 
this Teutonic strain shows clearly, and it may be said 
of the English crown, as the English so bitterly com- 
plain of many of the wares sold in their shops, that it 
was "made in Germany." 

The education of the little princess was conducted 
with commendable common sense. It was the educa- 
tion of a young girl of the middle classes — no more. 
She found delight in drawing and painting, a pastime 
which she pursued even to her later days. It does not 
appear that she ever possessed a cultivated literary 
taste, and the galaxy of poets, novelists and essayists 
that made her reign resplendent owed little to her 
patronage. Her biographers report Marion Crawford 
as having been the favorite novelist of her riper years, 
but she herself confessed to a greater admiration for 
Marie Corelli. 



QUEEN VICTORIA 201 

Knowledge of her station in life was concealed from 
her until her twelfth year, when a drawing of her 
family tree was deftly inserted in one of her text 
books where she would be sure to see it. Her gover- 
ness reported that she received the intelligence with 
glee and said that thenceforth she would always be 
good. But there are doubts alike as to the accuracy 
of the teacher's memory and the time when little 
Victoria first knew that she was destined to be a queen. 
There is no doubt that to the end of her days she 
permitted no one to forget that she was one. 

William IV, the last uncle to stand between her 
and the throne, hated her mother bitterly. Of the 
girl he often said he was sure she would be "a good 
woman and a good queen. It will touch every sailor's 
heart to have a girl queen to fight for. They'll be 
tattooing her face on their arms and I'll be bound 
that they'll all think she was christened after Nelson's 
ship" (the Victory). He wished to live until Victoria 
was eighteen years old, so that her mother might not 
have the pleasure of being queen regent. Victoria 
was barely three weeks more than eighteen when he 
died. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chan- 
cellor of England, who rode hard from William's death- 
bed at Windsor to Kensington bearing the news, 
found admittance hard to gain. A sleepy porter at 
the palace gate grumbled at being knocked up before 
five in the morning. The Baroness Lehzen being sent 
for, felt sure her precious ward should not be robbed 
of her beauty sleep at that unseemly hour. Appear- 
ing at last in dressing gown thrown hastily over her 



202 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

night robe, her bare feet thrust in slippers, the girl 
saw the two dignitaries drop to their knees saluting 
her as "your Majesty." Scarcely had she grasped the 
significance of the words when Lord Melbourne, the 
prime minister, came post haste from London, and 
was presently writing the speech which she had to 
deliver to the privy council in a few hours. Through 
that ceremony she passed "with self-possession and 
feminine delicacy" as the Tory councilor Croker ex- 
pressed it. "She not merely filled her chair," said 
the Duke of Wellington; "she filled the room" — and 
the Iron Duke was not given to gush. She herself 
said that she was not overwhelmed with her accession, 
"she took things as they came, as she knew they 
must be." This indeed was her attitude throughout 
life. The daughter of a spendthrift duke who had 
failed as a soldier, and of a German princess of small 
estate, she never doubted that the Almighty had chosen 
her to be queen of a great people, never wondered at 
his choice, nor for one moment permitted others to 
doubt that the divine favor had singled her out to be 
superior to all human beings. 

In a sketch of the proportions of this one no at- 
tempt can be made to discuss any save the most vital 
incidents of Victoria's long reign. Rather is the writer 
limited to depicting as far as may be the personal 
character which enabled her to cope, on the whole 
successfully, with the problems which confronted her. 
Those problems were materially simplified by the 
fundamental fact that she was a woman, and indeed 
a helpless young girl on her accession to the throne. 
By this the cause of democracy, which is always press- 



QUEEN VICTORIA 203 

ing in England, though at times without the knowledge 
of the very people who urge it, profited. Many exclu- 
sive prerogatives of the sovereign, like the power of 
pardon in capital cases, for example, were withdrawn 
from her as too likely to involve distress of mind. 
The bestowal of peerages became a matter of strict 
party politics. She herself somewhat weakened the 
direct influence of the sovereign over parliament^by 
abandoning the time-honored practice of opening and 
proroguing parliament in person. At her elbow ever, 
during the formative years of her reign, was the astute 
Lord Melbourne, who, though prime minister, had 
constituted himself her private secretary. In this 
capacity he was devoted and invaluable, but undoubt- 
edly he saw to it that none of the rights of parliament 
should be encroached upon by the Crown. 

The queen's marriage (of which more later) was 
none too popular with the people. She herself, adoring 
her bridegroom Albert with fervor, was discontented 
with the title " Prince-consort" conferred upon him. 
It should be "King-consort," she thought and besought 
Melbourne to have parliament so order it. Mel- 
bourne quietly reminded her that to assert the power 
of parliament to make a king was to admit its power 
to unmake a queen. "For God's sake, madam!" he 
said, "let's hear no more of it." The last preceding 
queen of England to have married beneath her in 
rank was Anne, and the precedent set in her case was 
followed in Victoria's, much to the latter's discontent. 
She said she would not have her noble husband classed 
with "the stupid and insignificant husband of Queen 
Anne." 



204 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



Victoria's marriage, ideally happy, for a time threat- 
ened the ruin of her reign. Her husband, Prince 
Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, was a German 
princeling of a minor house. The match was sug- 
gested by King Leopold, and the British public, which 
had rebelled when that monarch sent over a German 
count to be the Queen's private secretary, murmured 
loudly at this new German invasion of their royal 
circle. Though the match was planned for political 
reasons, the queen fell violently in love with Albert 
and proposed marriage to him as calmly as she had 
accepted the throne. "He never would have pre- 
sumed to take such a liberty himself," said she. 

The marriage was solemnized February 10, 1840. 
There followed a period of wrangling over the status 
of the prince-consort, his allowances, and his preroga- 
tives, which was torture to him and which aroused 
Victoria to fury and plunged her in tears. The prince 
could not be loved by the English people, though before 
he died he won their respect. He sympathized neither 
with their pleasures nor their amiable vices. He 
neither shot, drank nor kept late hours. In these 
characteristics his eldest son, Edward VII, was his 
direct opposite and was the idol of the people, while 
by a str ikin g case of atavism Albert's grandson, George 
V possesses the grandfather's nature and has yet to 
win his people's adulation as his father did. 

In due time the queen's persistence and Prince 
Albert's dignity and tact established the latter in the 
position which he held to be his, that of "the Queen's 
permanent minister." The birth of her children 
strengthened the royal couple's hold on the people, 



QUEEN VICTORIA 205 



and several futile attacks on the queen's life aroused 
still more the popular adoration. Though for years 
confronted with a hostile prime minister, Lord Palmer- 
ston, Prince Albert's influence grew apace. This influ- 
ence was at one time exerted upon the British in a 
way to confer supreme advantage upon the United 
States. It is matter of common knowledge that in our 
Civil War the sympathies of the ruling classes in Eng- 
land were with the South, and that when a hot-headed 
American naval officer stopped the British steamer 
Trent and took from her two Confederate envoys the 
two countries were brought to the verge of war. The 
American position was untenable, but the people were 
defiant. Lord Palmerston on receipt of the news 
drafted a dispatch demanding reparation in terms so 
peremptory that an explosion would surely have fol- 
lowed. The queen and the prince-consort expostu- 
lated and the latter wrote a note to Palmerston plead- 
ing so effectually for moderation that the dispatch was 
changed. It was the last thing he ever wrote, and the 
influence of the royal couple undoubtedly averted war. 
Albert died soon after: December 14, 1861. The 
queen's grief was profound, her mourning protracted, 
her seclusion absolute. This was the period when 
Victoria most narrowly approached unpopularity. 
The nation felt that she was sacrificing it to her grief, 
and as years passed and she withdrew more and more 
from royal activities, the note of criticism became very 
loud in parliament and the press. Resonant rebukes 
thundered from the TimeSj and Punch ventured to 
caricature her majesty. But she persisted long in her 
seclusion, receiving her ministers indeed and perform- 



206 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

ing the necessary duties of her exalted station, but 
avoiding as much as possible the pageantry of the court. 
It is probable her popularity would have suffered even 
more from this course had it not been for the singular 
tact and bonhomie of the Prince of Wales, who went 
everywhere and was beloved of all the people. 

So great a figure as that of Queen Victoria can only 
be sketched in mass. The story of her times and of her 
life already fills volumes and more are to follow. She 
lived in a great era and did nothing to detract from its 
grandeur. The people chose for her wise ministers, 
and though she often disagreed with their policies and 
sometimes influenced them, she never ventured to 
oppose them. If she never forgot that she was queen, 
she always remembered that her power was limited 
by the constitution. Democracy made giant strides 
during her reign, though not with her aid or coun- 
tenance. While she made it a point to understand 
what the government was doing, the course of events 
more and more deprived her of power to direct its 
action. 

She died at Osborne, Isle of Wight, January 22, 
1902. The caisson bearing her body to the sepulchre 
was followed by four kings and members of every royal 
family in Europe. All London, all England, was 
draped in the purple hue fixed upon for mourning, but 
all the world sincerely mourned a woman who was a 
good queen, a good wife and a good mother. 




MADAME DU BARRY 
From the painting by Drouuts 



COUNTESS DU BARRY 

(174C-1793) 
THE RULER OF LOUIS XV 

THE Countess du Barry was the recognized mis- 
tress of King Louis XV of France, from about 
1763, when his wife died, until 1774, when he- 
perished miserably of the smallpox. She was 
legitimately neither countess nor "du" (a preposition 
which in France denotes noble lineage) nor even 
Barry. As a matter of fact, she was a child of the peo- 
ple, whose real name was Jeanne Becu. In France 
they attach more importance to names than we do. 
The little prefix "de" carries with it a certain implica- 
tion of aristocracy, and as anybody can assume it 
there is no reason why it should not be quite as general 
as it is. 

Pretty Jeanne Becu became a milliner's girl — what 
romantic Americans on their first visits to Paris look 
for eagerly as "grisettes." Perhaps she was a little 
bit ambitious and ready to make sacrifices to climb 
higher. Anyhow, she met what Broadway calls "a 
man about town/' who rejoiced in the title of Count 
Jean du Barry. The title carried with it no income, 
but the count saw in the pretty young girl a possibility 
of profit. It was a time when profit of this sort was 
regarded as quite proper among the nobility and gen- 

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208 WOMEN OF HISTO RY 

try of France. The count seems to have gained his 
money by gambling, and over the parties at his house 
the girl of unknown parentage presided — with a new 
name. She was then Mile. PAnge. As an angel she 
seems to have aided the count's fortunes mightily. 

One after another great generals like Dumouriez 
and great nobles like the Duke de Lauzun met her and 
became her slaves. But her greatest triumph did not 
come until Lebel, the king's valet, gave her the honor 
of an interview. Nowadays we would not look upon 
the favor of a valet with pride. But Lebel was more 
than a valet. His duties were both delicate and despic- 
able. He stocked the Pare aux Cerfs and he made 
the mistake of inviting Mile. l'Ange there. That she 
would remain more than a day and night never occurred 
to him, but so successfully did she charm the worn-out 
rou6 Louis XV that she became the prime favorite 
and only left the court when the king died. 

Such is a blunt summary of the rise to power of a 
girl who, born in obscurity, became the real ruler of 
France and died under the knife of the guillotine like 
the most high-born dames of France. But betwixt 
the joyous beginning and the bloody end there was 
much that is worth the telling. 

After Lebel, the misguided valet, had introduced 
Mile. Jeanne into the secret chateau of the Pare aux 
Cerfs the rest was in the hands of Louis. For some 
reason the young woman charmed him. The Pompa- 
dour, who had been the joy of his royal existence, 
passed away and this new affinity seemed to be what 
was needed to cheer his declining years. He saw that 
she needed a title to be presented at court. Count 



COUNTESS DU BARRY 209 

Jean du Barry, who had discovered her, could not sup- 
ply this, for he was already married. But he had a 
brother, also a count — which, by the way, might indi- 
cate to our American heiresses how plentiful counts 
are — who was willing to marry the young demoiselle 
for a consideration. The marriage was duly solem- 
nized. Count du Barry returned to Toulouse much 
richer than he was before, and his wife took up her 
gorgeous quarters at Versailles. 

It was the time when the feminine element was very 
strong in France. By this I do not merely mean the 
women who fluttered about the king and his coun- 
selors at Versailles, but in all the best circles of Paris 
women were the dominant forces. The salon of Mme. 
Geoffrin, who, by the way, had never learned how to 
write, was a power in the land because with wealth 
and tact she brought about her the greatest wits of the 
time. And the time was one in which wit counted — 
by wit I mean the power to see the abuses of the court 
and the skill to describe them. 

Curiously enough the influence of the salons was for 
a long time directed in favor of the Countess du Barry. 
She at first seemed content to be the ch&re amie of 
the king and to keep out of the politics of the court. 
But that was a position which she could not possibly 
occupy long. Every courtier who offered adulation to 
her followed it with some request for preferment. 
Though she much preferred to keep out of the struggle 
for place and power, she was inevitably drawn into it. 
They had a phrase in France in those days which 
ran this way, " Mistresses make ministers, but minis- 
ters cannot dethrone mistresses." One of the first 

14 



210 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

political acts of the du Barry's reign was to cajole 
Louis into dismissing his minister of state, the Duke 
de Choiseul, and exiling him from Paris. The duke 
had not sufficiently "crooked the pregnant hinges of 
the knee" to the favorite, so one morning she remarked 
to the king apropos of her discharge of her cook, "I 
have got rid of my Choiseul; when will you get rid of 
yours?" 

The secretary of state speedily followed the cook. 

This victory made Mme. du Barry an international 
figure. The Empress of Austria, Maria Theresa, who 
had not been too proud to address the Pompadour as 
"dear friend and cousin/' wrote her daughter Marie 
Antoinette to take special pains to be friendly with the 
king's latest favorite. The young princess, who until 
that time had been haughtily oblivious to the du Barry's 
existence, obeyed. Thenceforward the power of the 
courtesan was absolute until May 10, 1774, when 
Louis XV died of smallpox. With him died the reign 
of the Countess du Barry. Historians say that with 
the extinguishing of the candle that told of the king's 
death, the wild rush of courtiers to congratulate the 
new king made a tumult like a charge of cavalry. But 
none of those steps was directed toward the apartment 
of the fallen favorite. 

In a beautiful villa, Lucienne, given her by the king 
and supported by the remnants of his bounty, the 
countess lived on for nineteen years. Then the storm 
of the French Kevolution broke and the spectacle of 
her luxury founded on a life of vice roused the wrath 
of its leaders. In the days of her greatest prosperity 
she had made a pet of a little Bengalese boy, called 



COUNTESS DU BARRY 211 



Zamora, who served as a page, but whom Louis by 
way of whimsy had appointed governor of Lucienne, 
making the chancellor of France countersign the 
appointment. This boy, on whom every luxury had 
been lavished, had reached manhood at the time of the 
revolution. He became a traitor and denounced his 
hapless mistress to the Convention, which promptly 
confiscated her fortune and sentenced her to death. 
Fifty-three days earlier Marie Antoinette had met 
death on the same scaffold — met it bravely as a queen 
should. But the light woman, the king's favorite, 
died in shrieking terror. All along the fateful ride 
from the Conciergerie to the Place de la Guillotine she 
cried aloud for aid and for mercy. Two executioners 
could hardly hold her in the tumbril. "Life, life!" 
she cried to the crowd. "Only let them give me life 
and I will give all my property to the nation." In the 
midst of a plea to the executioner the knife fell and the 
Countess du Barry was a mere memory. The infamy 
of her life was unredeemed by any dignity in death. 



COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTQN 

(1789-1849) 
AN ENGLISH SALONISTE 

PERHAPS it is not extraordinary that the near- 
est approach to a real Paris salon that London 
ever knew was presided over by an Irish woman. 
The distinctively British type does not lend 
itself to the gayety, the esprit, the intellectual thrust 
and parry of the conversation in a typical salon. But 
your Irishman, from bog trotter to peer, is ever talking, 
and wit is his saving grace whether he be Mr. Dooley 
or Bernard Shaw. 

The childhood of Marguerite Power, who became 
Countess of Blessington, reads like a page from one of 
Lever's Irish novels. Her father was a typical squire, 
hot of temper, hard riding, hard drinking. He was a 
"rale old Irish gentleman," grinding the faces of his 
tenants, who repaid him by mutilating his cattle and 
burning his hayricks. 

His daughter seems to have inspired him with no 
more affection than his peasantry. Before she was fif- 
teen he married her, despite her piteous protests, to a 
certain Captain Maurice Farmer of the neighbor- 
hood. Captain Farmer knew that the girl detested 
the sight of him, so he forbore addressing her per- 
sonally, but made his proposals to the father, support- 

(212) 



COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON 213 

ing them by financial arguments which appealed to 
Power, who was chronically "broke." The father 
knew well enough that his daughter hated her suitor 
and that the latter was subject to intermittent attacks 
of dangerous insanity, but, needing the money, he sold 
his child. She lived with her husband but three 
months, enduring the while all sorts of physical bru- 
tality from him in his periodical fits of madness. At 
the end of that time the crazy captain was ordered to 
join his regiment. 

As his wife could not live with him in camp, she 
returned to her parents' house, finding there but a cold 
welcome and the assurance that she must return to 
her husband when his period of service had expired. 
Happily for her the warrior in a fit of rage drew his 
sword on his colonel, and for this was expelled from the 
army. Not long after, drinking deep with some friends 
in King's Bench Prison — in those old English debtors' 
prisons great laxity was permitted — he fell from a 
second-story window into the jail yard and ended his 
tipsy and useless life. Shortly thereafter 'Squire 
Power died, boasting on his last day that the day before 
he had taken his "usual four or five glasses of punch." 

Thus freed from about as worthless a pair of male 
relatives as ever afflicted a young lady, Mrs. Farmer 
spent several years in obscurity, which is the more 
mysterious for that her biographers stubbornly refuse 
to enlighten us to where and how she lived. But in 
1816, being then twenty-seven years old and seemingly 
well provided with this world's goods, she appeared 
in London and took up a house in Manchester Square. 
By dint of her beauty and her wit she speedily gathered 



214 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



about her a company of interesting people. Among 
these was the Earl of Blessington, a gentleman of for- 
tune and with extravagant habits quite sufficient to 
prevent that fortune from growing any larger. He 
was fond of private theatricals, actresses, gay raiment 
and beautifully adorned rooms. His first wife had died 
before he met Marguerite Farmer, but as he had spent 
$20,000 on a stately, not to say stagy, funeral pageant 
in her honor and mourned her loyally for two years 
he thought that matrimonial account closed. 

Mrs. Farmer was then in the perfection of matured 
beauty. "Her form," writes a chronicler of her time, 
"was exquisitely moulded, with an inclination to ful- 
ness, but no finer proportions could be imagined; her 
movements were pleasing and graceful at all times." 
Blessington was captivated with her at once, and they 
were married in 1818. He took his bride to his Irish 
estate, Mount joy Forest, where she was somewhat 
overwhelmed to find her private sitting room "hung 
with crimson Genoa silk velvet, trimmed with gold 
bullion fringe and all the furniture of equal richness — 
a richness that was only suited to a state room in a 
palace." 

His town house in St. James Square, to which the 
couple soon returned, was equally magnificent. To it 
there flocked on Lady Blessington's nights politicians 
like Lords Palmerston, Russell and Brougham; actors 
like Kemble and Matthews, the literary men and social 
lions of the city. It was the most brilliant coterie in 
town,swiiming its pre-eminence through the beauty and 
charm of its mistress. 
* But Lord Blessington concluded he wanted to make 



COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON 215 

a grand tour of the continent — and make it he did in 
stately style, devoting several years to the excursion. 
He took with him a chef from the kitchen of an emperor, 
a whole batterie de^cuisine taken from a club famous 
for good cooking and such a train of grooms, valets, 
maids and couriers as to make it seem like a royal 
progress. It was an intellectual pilgrimage despite 
the prominence of the cook in the preparations. His- 
toric and literary shrines were sought out, and Lady 
Blessington tried her 'prentice hand on books of travel, 
doing them very readably. At Genoa she met Byron, 
whose weakness she described as "a flippancy incom- 
patible with the nature we attach to the author of 
Childe Harold and Manfred, and a want of the self- 
possession and dignity that ought to characterize a 
man of worth and genius." She seemed to forget that 
Byron was also the author of the less dignified poem 
" Don Juan." One who sought to find dignity and poise 
in that riotous poet would scarce seem fitted to be his 
biographer, but her book, "Conversations with Byron," 
is a most readable record of the poet's small talk. 

Nearing the end of this royal progress through 
Europe, Blessington took ill in Paris and died. His 
estate was encumbered, his legacies many and gen- 
erous. To his widow there remained only $10,000 a 
year and a house in Sherman Square. They had been 
living at the rate of $50,000 a year, and Marguerite, 
who had readily forgotten her childhood's lessons in 
poverty, neither knew how nor tried to live on her 
reduced income. Her London entertainments were as 
splendid as ever, and she became the acknowledged 
head of London society. To make up the difference 



216 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



betwixt her income of $10,000 and her expenditures, 
averaging $30,000, she turned to writing — in every age 
the desperate recourse of the embarrassed and the 
unfit. Her fashionable vogue aided somewhat the sale 
of her novels and articles, but the rising tide of bank- 
ruptcy could not be stemmed by so slight a bark. Her 
peace of mind was not enhanced by the fact that her 
house sheltered the famous exquisite, Count d'Orsay, 
whose personal debts exceeded $600,000. As that was 
the era of imprisonment for debt, the noble count was 
precluded from taking the air except on Sundays. 

The inevitable smash came in 1849, when the credit- 
ors by concerted action put bailiffs in the house and 
all of the treasures collected by Lord and Lady Bless- 
ington went under the hammer. The total sum real- 
ized was about $60,000, though the collection was well 
worth three times the amount. None of the brilliant 
company that had thronged her drawing rooms came 
to her aid in the days of her disaster, though it is 
pleasant to record that fine old Thackeray, who hated 
snobs, was seen wiping away surreptitious tears as he 
sat at the sale and saw the art treasures of the rooms 
she had graced sold to strangers. 

A stroke of apoplexy in Paris carried her off in 1849. 
Fortune, which had given her so unhappy a childhood, 
redoubled its buffets as she drew near her end. For a 
woman who strove only to forward the gayety and the 
pleasure of her circle her fate seems hard. 




DUCHESS OF CLEVELAND 
From the piiittiiKj hy Sir Peter Lrly 



BARBARA, DUCHESS OF 
CLEVELAND 

(1640-1709) 
A TYPE OF THE VAMPIRE 

WHEN stout and God-fearing Cromwell ruled 
Britain one Charles Stuart, son of the 
Charles I whose head had been chopped off 
at Whitehall, was in exile in Holland. To 
him came an ardent loyalist, Roger Palmer, bringing 
a large sum of money to aid in his restoration. This 
patriotic devotion was rewarded by Charles, who was, 
in fact, restored to his throne shortly thereafter, and 
celebrated his first night in London by robbing the 
loyal Palmer of his nineteen-year-old wife. 

The lady thus honored by the fancy of the king, 
who was destined to become the most profligate of all 
English monarchs, was by birth Barbara Villiers, of 
good family. Her father, a viscount, fell in battle 
fighting for the father of the restored king. Barbara 
at sixteen fell desperately in love with the second Lord 
Chesterfield, but in the midst of her infatuation the 
girl was married to Palmer. IVf atrimony did not change 
her greater inclination. "I am ready and willing to go 
all over the world with you," she wrote passionately 
to her old lover. But the addresses of the king blotted 

(217) 



218 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



out recollection of husband and lover alike. It does 
not seem that her ready surrender was due to any affec- 
tion for the person of Charles, or even to the hysteri- 
cal weakness that might be pardoned at a moment 
when the capital in delirious joy was welcoming the 
king for whose father her own father had died. Her 
life's record shows that with calm calculation she had 
thrown herself in the way of Charles, and for years 
thereafter made him — that is to say, the British peo- 
ple — pay heavily for his pleasure. 

Palmer, well aware of the precise kind of welcome 
extended to the newly arrived king, sulked for awhile, 
but was placated by being created Earl of Castle- 
maine. Later he was made Duke of Cleveland, that 
his wife might flaunt the coronet and the title of duchess 
at court. Suitable revenues accompanied these titles 
and he philosophically withdrew to his own manner of 
life, leaving his duchess to play the part she had chosen 
— which, indeed, she would have done in any event, 
being a lady of dominant temper and a somewhat 
abnormal liking for the male sex. 

The plunder she extorted from the king almost 
baffles computation. Among her perquisites were an 
annual grant of $23,500 from the post office, a money 
gift of $150,000; $5,000 a year as compensation for 
some shadowy claims on Phoenix Park; $100,000 a 
year from the customs. Even more illegitimate gains 
were hers. The lord lieutenant of Ireland needing her 
influence paid her $50,000 for a bribe. As for the king, 
he was continually heaping gifts of money and jewels 
upon her, to still her cantankerous tongue or win a 
momentary smile. It is recorded that she so berated 



BARBARA, DUCHESS OF CLEVELAND 219 



him with billingsgate for hesitating to acknowledge the 
paternity of her third child — a matter concerning which 
he may well have cherished doubt — that he gave her 
5,600 ounces of plate to purchase peace. Well indeed 
may Evelyn have called her "The Curse of England." 

For the life she led she needed money, even though 
she lived luxuriously at public cost in the palaces of 
Whitehall and Hampton Court. She appeared often 
wearing jewels valued at $200,000 — though the wives 
of some of our modern plutocrats outdo her in this. 
She was a passionate gambler, not hesitating to lose 
$125,000 in a night and staking from $7,500 to $10,000 
on a single throw. But more costly than jewels or 
dice were her lovers, of whom she maintained a horde, 
distributing among them with lavish hand the treasure 
she wrung from Charles. The foundation of the ducal 
house of Marlborough was laid with $25,000 she thus 
tossed to John Churchill, afterward the first duke. 
All this was known to Charles and observed by him 
with cynical philosophy. 

Contemptible indeed was the persecution which 
Barbara employed against the wife of Charles, a Portu- 
guese princess, whom he had been obliged to marry for 
reasons of state. The wife was small, brown, unpre- 
possessing; Barbara stately, as white of skin as black 
of heart, as fair of feature as foul of morals. In every 
way she thrust herself into the company of the queen, 
that all might note the contrast. When Charles, 
with singular blackguardism, introduced her to the 
queen at a public levee the latter did not at first catch 
the lady's name and greeted her with kindly warmth. 
In a moment a lady-in-waiting whispered to her the 



220 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



truth. For a moment she strove to subdue her feel- 
ings, but the effort at repression was too much for her 
and she was carried from the room in a fit. 

Of the five children of the Duchess of Cleveland 
whom Charles acknowledged as his — one he repudiated 
— the two daughters married earls and the sons were 
granted coats-of-arms, given titles and enrolled among 
the elect of the land. The blood of this woman flows 
in the veins of many an English aristocrat of to-day. 

In time her influence over Charles waned. The 
French government, in pursuance of the devious diplo- 
macy of the day, sent over a famous beauty, Louise 
de Keroualle, to fascinate Charles and to wheedle him 
into a French alliance. Before this enterprise was 
undertaken the French ambassador at London had been 
instructed to secure the influence of the Duchess 
of Cleveland with the king and to pay her any price 
she might exact for her services. But the shrewd 
French diplomat reported to his royal master that the 
woman was so much a creature of whims and fancies 
that she would forget any such agreement, however 
well she might be paid, in the zest of her pursuit of a 
new affinity or the gratification of any passing fancy. 

Hence the Keroualle was sent over, and with her 
innocent, baby face and appealing eyes at once cap- 
tured the fancy of Charles. She was wise in her day 
and generation, however, and kept him at a distance 
for a long time until the price of her complaisance was 
paid to her king. Soon after entering upon these new 
relations Charles died, and, dying, the name of Nell 
Gwyn, of all his favorites, alone passed his lips. 

The Duchess of Cleveland now fell on parlous times 



BARBARA, DUCHESS OF CLEVELAN D 221 

and met them as would a merely vulgar and degraded 
woman. She took up, one after the other, with new 
lovers, each less reputable than his predecessor. One, 
an actor named Goodman, tried to poison two of her 
sons that his share in her wealth might be greater. 
Succeeding him came "Beau" Fielding, whom she 
married. It was not a fortunate experiment, for he 
treated her brutally and she hailed with delight the 
discovery that he had another wife living, which nulli- 
fied her marriage. 

In October, 1709, she died wretchedly of dropsy. 
Two dukes and two earls were her pallbearers; three 
dukes, her illegitimate sons, followed her to the grave. 
One turns with sadness from the record of her life to 
think of her brave and noble father giving his fortune 
and his life for the perpetuation of the Stuart dynasty, 
which brought his beautiful and at one time innocent 
daughter down so' low. 



MADAME DU DEFFAND 

(1697-1780) 
THE BLIND RTTLEE OF A FAMOUS SALON 

THE Paris salon was a power which, when it 
died, as it did with Mme. Recamier, perished 
without resurrection. Other wits in other 
lands strove to imitate it without avail. It 
flourished most under the ancient regime in those days 
of luxury and gayety which immediately preceded and 
brought on the French Revolution. Talleyrand said 
no one could comprehend what a delightful thing life 
could be unless he had belonged to the French aris- 
tocracy before the revolution. He did not round out 
his philosophical reflection by adding "nor what a 
miserable, abject and agonized thing unless he were 
one of the French peasantry or the canaille of the 
same era." 

One of the most vivacious of the aristocratic institu- 
tions of this delightful era was the salon. "There 
used to be in Paris," said Sidney Smith, "under the 
old regime a few women of brilliant talents who vio- 
lated all the common duties of life and gave very pleas- 
ant little suppers." The English cynic put in a phrase 
the essence of the salon, but failed to grasp its greater 
influence. 
Mme. du Deffand, one of the most brilliant of Pari- 

(222) 



MADAME DU DEFFAND 223 

sian women, did nothing of moment prior to embark- 
ing on her career as a saloniste, except to be born and 
to get married. The former she did unwittingly in 
December, 1697; the latter, if not unwillingly, certainly 
without zest, in 1718. The husband who kindly pre- 
sented himself to the girl without a dot was M. Jean 
Baptiste Jacques de La Land, Marquis du Deffand, 
His name was rather longer than their married life. 
But he had money and he took her to Paris — what 
more could be gained in a marriage de convenance ? 

Very soon after the marriage the pair gave up any 
pretense of living together and the young wife plunged 
into the worst excesses of the frivolous society of 
Paris. She had for her intimates two of the most 
profligate women of Paris; one of these manifested her 
friendship by introducing the bride to the little suppers 
of the Due d'Orleans, then regent, and a miracle of 
licentiousness. With him and his set she revelled for 
awhile and had the name of being his favorite — which 
in the tone of Paris society of the day did her no social 
harm. That was but a passing phase, however. A 
more enduring passion was her affection for the Presi- 
dent Henault, the "old, blind debauchee of wit," Wal- 
pole called him, which was quite openly manifested 
and endured through the greater part of her life — 
though not without certain interludes with other 
lovers to relieve the monotony of life. 

Ennui was her horror. "I am so constantly bored," 
she wailed. "Hence all my follies." 

Soon after giving up the Regent she conceived the 
novel idea of resuming her marriage in a trial form. 
She persuaded her husband to agree to a six weeks' 



224 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



test of compatibility. As the end of that new honey- 
moon approached the black beast ennui appeared again. 
Madame seemed triste, preoccupied, yawned more 
often than smiled at her husband. The marquis, a 
perfect gentleman of the day, jested a little, bowed 
low with exquisite courtesy and went home to his 
father. The marquise, after a few suitable tears, 
joined a gallant who had been peeping around the corner 
during the test. 

With the husband safe in rural retirement, Mme. 
du Deffand sought new diversion. She had tried 
both domesticity and license. Now she turned to 
literature and wit. At Sceaux, just out of Paris, the 
Duchesse du Maine held her court of wit and thither 
she betook herself. There she mingled with such com- 
manding figures in French intellectual life as Voltaire, 
the sneering philosopher; Mile, de Launay, afterwards 
Mme. de Stael; Mme. de Lambert and the President 
Henault, whom she presently snapped up for her own, 
making amends for her indiscretion in living six weeks 
with her husband by calmly setting up her own menage 
in the president's home. Brilliant as the company 
was she shone pre-eminent in it and soon, not content 
with playing second fiddle, she set up a salon of her 
own, finding her home for twenty-seven years in the 
convent of St. Joseph in the heart of the then fashion- 
able quarter of Paris. 

It was the practice of the Parisian convents at that 
day to rent out as apartments some portion of then- 
extensive edifices. The custom led to singular contrasts 
between what was supposed to be the asceticism of 
conventual life and the gayety of the convents. The 



MADAME DU DEFFAND 225 

rooms occupied by Mme. du Deff and had been tenanted 
earlier by Mme. de Montespan, one of the mistresses 
of Louis XIV, and her arms were still emblazoned 
above the fire place. Beside the odor of sanctity that 
attached to an apartment in a convent, the rent was 
cheap and the tenant was absolved from much of the 
expensive pomp and state that residents of the more 
fashionable homes were forced to maintain. 

Here Mme. du Deff and gave on Monday nights 
those "little suppers" which Walpole commended. 
There gathered a most brilliant assemblage of men 
and women who would sooner break any commandment 
than be guilty of a stupidity. Though she firmly 
refused to let politics have place, her guests included 
Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, the envoys from 
many neighboring states and sometimes their kings. 
A star among the men was d'Alembert, the most 
erudite of mathematicians, who, after a day spent in 
study would sally forth at night like a released school- 
boy seeking pleasure, tempering the purely intellectual 
with the spice of naughtiness he was sure to find at 
this convent court. 

About 1750 the great disaster of the loss of her 
eyesight fell upon Mme. du Deffand, but it neither 
clouded her life nor embittered her wit. Her salon 
was maintained with its accustomed gayety and, 
despite rivals, showed no deterioration. The first 
reverse came in a peculiar way. The great saloniste 
had taken as a sort of companion to soothe her blind- 
ness a certain Mile. Espinasse, who, being pdnniless, 
grasped eagerly at the offer of comfortable quarters 
and an allowance. At this time madame's habits of 

15 



226 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

life were not easy for a companion. She refused to 
seek her bed before dawn or to leave it until six in the 
evening. Suffering from insomnia, she exacted from 
the companion hours of reading aloud. Under this 
system Mile. Espinasse chafed. Having a pretty 
wit of her own, she took advantage of her patron's 
hours and held a little personal salon of her own in 
du Deffand's own apartment an hour before that lady 
was presentable. When this treachery was discovered 
rage ruled the convent. The traitor was expelled, but, 
finding a new patron, set up a salon of her own, to 
which many of du Deffand's guests transferred their 
allegiance. It was most horrifying and shook the 
very confidence in humanity of the blind social leader. 
Despite her blindness the poor old woman carried 
on her social activity until the last. On the very 
day of her death her ante-room was crowded with 
friendly inquirers. As she lay dying she noticed 
that her secretary, Wiart, wept. "What," she said 
in surprise, "you love me, then?" More than half 
a century of Paris friendships had brought her to the 
edge of the grave incredulous of real love. 



NINON DE L'ENCLOS 

(1616-1705) 
A TYPICAL PARISIAN PARASITE 

TO be a light woman, rather lighter than the 
lightest, as light indeed as a bubble filled with 
laughing gas, until the age when wanton 
charms begin to fade; and then to win fame 
in the domain of intellect so that those who came to 
dally stayed to be dazzled by sparkling wit, is surely 
a life story far removed from the commonplace. It 
is in brief the story of the two phases of the life of 
Ninon de l'Enclos, whose name, two centuries after 
death, is still a synonym for the courtesan of quality. 
True, the line of divergence between the two lives 
led by Ninon was not very distinct nor wholly un- 
broken. Certainly a woman, one of whose latest 
lovers was her own natural son who killed himself 
in despair on learning his relationship to his goddess, 
must have trod all the most dramatic paths of romance. 
A phrase, however, in a letter from Mme. de Coulanges 
to Mme. de Sevigne shows how thoroughly the Ninon 
of middle age won those who had turned aghast from 
her in the heyday of her youthful follies: " Women 
all flock to visit Ninon de PEnclos as formerly only 
men used to do." 

Making allowance for the immoral nature of the 

(227) 



228 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

French society in which she lived, moved and had 
her being, Ninon de FEnclos is to be looked upon as 
perhaps its finest type. She scorned in about equal 
degree chastity and vulgar vice. Looking in good- 
humored tolerance on the chaste Mme. de Maintenon, 
she remarked, "She is too awkward for love." In- 
deed, she coined a maxim from poor de Maintenon's 
lack of charm — "Love without grace is like a hook 
without any bait." Of her own lapses from the 
straight and narrow path, repeated so often as to 
become the rule rather than the exception, she made 
a jest. At one time the stories of her salon became 
so scandalous that the queen regent in dudgeon ex- 
pressed the desire that the offender should retire to 
a religious house. Observing that no particular in- 
stitution was prescribed, Ninon obediently replied, 
expressing submission and declaring that she would 
retire to the monastery of the Grand Cordeliers. The 
selection convulsed Paris, for the Cordeliers at that 
particular time were an order of monks not at all noted 
for piety, prudery or propriety. The jest came near 
being her undoing, for Anne of Austria was violently 
angered, and all sorts of pleadings were necessary to 
save Ninon from being sent to the Retreat for Re- 
pentant Girls. "That would have been unjust/' 
remarked one of her gallants; "she is no longer a girl 
and is certainly not repentant." 

One story of her loyalty will perhaps serve as an 
illustration of the difference between real and Phar- 
isaical friendliness which exists even in the present 
day. A certain nobleman encountering the disfavor 
of the court, fled in haste from Paris, and, it being 



, NINON DE L'ENCLOS 229 

before the days of banks and safety deposit boxes, 
divided his fortune into halves, leaving 10,000 crowns 
with an eminent prelate and a like amount with Ninon. 
On return from exile he found to his horror that the 
priest, seeking a reputation for benevolence at no cost 
to himself, had distributed the trust fund among the 
poor: "If this is what I get from a saint/' cried the 
distressed noble, "what can I hope from the sinner?" 
and with a heart full of apprehension he sought Ninon. 
She gave him a hearty welcome, produced his 10,000 
crowns and thanked him for the trust he had reposed 
in her. Perhaps it was this incident that gave rise 
to the saying that Ninon could not be a virtuous wo- 
man, but had all the virtues of an honest man. 

Upon her career of pleasure Ninon entered at the 
age of sixteen — she ended it at eighty-nine. Truly 
a long life in which nothing useful, but many amusing 
things were done. Though a butterfly, a true type 
of La Cigale, Ninon did not have the lack of prudent 
foresight which characterized that hapless figure in 
La Fontaine's fable. When her parents died she came 
into a moderate inheritance. Some women would 
have sought to increase it. Not so Ninon. The 
spirit of speculation was not within her and she did 
not even allow cards at her soirees. So she converted 
it into an annuity which brought her in a sufficient 
income and which died with her. It was enough to 
give her leisure to chase the phantom folly all her 
days. She never pretended to wealth and the guests 
at her house were always encouraged to send in wines 
and dainties for her dinners. Perhaps she was never 
quite so sadly pinched as Mme. Scarron, later Mme. 



230 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



de Maintenon, whose house was called the Hotel of 
Impecuniosity, and where the butler was reported 
to have whispered to the hostess to please tell another 
story as there was no roast that night. 

Her early entree upon Parisian society was under 
excellent auspices, and she was soon on a good foot- 
ing in the best houses. But from her father she had 
inherited a wayward disposition and a lofty scorn for 
hypocrisy. She never concealed, but blazoned her 
follies on high; with the result that she was soon 
ostracized by most fashionable women of Paris, many 
of whom led the same life discreetly that she did 
flagrantly. One friend who proved useful remained 
to her, Marion Delorme, with whom she began her 
long series of receptions to which flocked all the gay- 
est and most distinguished men of Paris, but no women. 
As a matter of fact, Ninon had become a woman 
hater. The men who visited her were cynically classed 
as "the payers, the martyrs and the favored." She 
was not above taking money from her devotees and 
at least two of them made her an allowance for some 
years. In the 'heyday of her youthful frivolities her 
home was not unlike the house of Aspasia in the days 
of Pericles. 

Gradually the tone of the de TEnclos salon changed. 
There seems to be no exact period at which its more 
flagrant follies were abated, but in time it became 
perceptible to the feminine world, and skirts and rouge 
were seen there again. It cannot be said that Ninon's 
personal morals improved, for at the age of eighty 
she inspired in the breast of the Abbe Gedoya, aged 
twenty-nine, so violent a passion that he almost went 



NINON DE L'ENCLOS 231 

mad. But her soirees, from having been notorious 
became famous. The best society in Paris was to be 
encountered and "Women of the highest virtue en- 
couraged their sons on their entry into the great world 
to visit Ninon, on account of the social advantages 
accruing to anyone admitted into such amiable society, 
regarded, as it was, as the very center of good com- 
pany." 

So, if not precisely in the odor of sanctity, at least 
in an atmosphere of regained respectability, Ninon 
approached death which attended her in her nine- 
tieth year. Her last days were tranquil. "Some 
lovers, many friends, a somewhat sedentary life, read- 
ing, agreeable supper parties and that completes the 
end of her story," was Voltaire's comment. It does 
not quite complete it, for the last phase appears in a 
letter of hers to St. Evremond, whom she had loved 
most among the many she had loved a little: "If I 
were told I had to go over again the life I have led, 
I would hang myself to-morrow," was her own final 
comment on her dazzling career. 



MADAME RECAMIER 

(1777-1850) 
THE BEAUTY OF THE FRENCH SALONS 

A NOBLE picture, so widely produced as to have 
become hackneyed, and a nostrum for the 
complexions of the nineteenth century fair 
ones have done more to make the name of 
Mme. Recamier familiar to the present generation 
than anything she ever did, said or wrote. As a matter 
of fact, she wrote nothing except personal letters, and 
in an age when all letters seem to have been written for 
publication hers never won the dignity of print. 

Perhaps in no other period than hers, nor in any 
other country than France could Mme. Recamier 
have won the fame or thfc measure of immortality to 
which she attained. It was the famous era of the 
French salons, the time when women of wit, of learning 
or political acumen gathered in their drawing rooms 
companies of those who were impressing themselves 
on the literature or the politics of the day. Mme. 
Recamier did this with eminent success — yet she had 
neither wit, learning nor political acumen. Her gift 
was heaven-born — the gift of beauty — and it seemed 
to replace sufficiently all the others. For it Mme. de 
Stael, most brilliant of women, said she would give all 
her own genius. 

(232) 



MADAME RECAMIER 233 

Born at Lyons, of parents in comfortable circum- 
stances, Jeanne Frangoise Julie Adelaide Bernard — 
the child sensibly rejected all these names but the third 
— was given the customary convent education. But 
the book most constantly consulted by her was her 
mirror. Almost in infancy her extraordinary beauty 
was the subject of general comment, and as admiring 
relatives and friends were not niggardly of their com- 
pliments, the girl was quite aware of her charm. It 
was the period just prior to the French Revolution, 
when one of the functions at the court of Versailles 
was a ceaseless procession of the people through the 
royal dining room to observe King Louis XVI and his 
family at dinner. It is related that Julie, being then 
about eleven or twelve, was in this line when her beauty 
attracted the attention of Queen Marie Antoinette, 
who called her to the royal apartments, there to be 
compared with the princess royal, then about her own 
age. Indeed, from earliest youth everything con- 
spired to instil into her mind knowledge of her beauty 
and the conviction that it was the only thing worth 
while. When it began to fade life for her lost its savor. 
"I do not deceive myself," she said in later years to a 
friend who sought to persuade her that age had made 
no ravages. "From the moment I noticed the little 
Savoyards in the streets no longer turned to look at 
me, I knew all was over." 

Her girlhood was brief. When she was fifteen she 
married in the most daughterly fashion M. de Recamier, 
a rich banker, forty-two years old, well educated, engag- 
ing in manner and kindly in disposition. Always his 
demeanor toward her was rather that of the father than 



234 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

the lover, though he provided not merely for her every 
want, but humored her extravagances as well. Their 
wedding took place in the midst of the Reign of Terror, 
and until that fierce storm had blown itself out their 
life was necessarily quiet and secluded. It was no time 
to attract attention by evidence of undue prosperity. 
M. de Recamier, who saw Marie Antoinette die under 
the axe, effaced himself and his child bride as effectually 
as might be without abandoning his business. 

But with the return of order and of safety they shone 
forth in luxury and brilliance unexcelled in all Paris. 
About her in this new home gathered the foremost 
representatives of French wit and wisdom. The 
young chatelaine whom they thronged to see is thus 
described by Mme. Lenormant, a contemporary: 
" A figure flexible and elegant, a well-poised head, throat 
and shoulders of admirable form and proportions, 
beautiful arms, though somewhat small ; a small, 
rosy mouth; black hair that curled naturally; a 
delicate, regular nose, but bien Frangais (very French) ; 
an incomparable brilliancy of complexion; a frank, 
arch face, rendered irresistibly lovely from its expresr 
sion of goodness; a carriage slightly indicative of 
indolence and pride, so that to her might be applied 
Saint Simon's compliment to the Duchess of Bur- 
gundy: 

"'Her step was like that of a goddess on clouds.'" 
Of course, of those who frequented the salon a fair 
proportion fell in love with its ruler. First of these was 
Lucien Bonaparte, brother of the First Consul Napo- 
leon. His love letters became so ardent that in some 
trepidation the young wife showed them to her husband, 



MADAME RECAMIER 235 



suggesting that Lucien be forbidden the house. The 
prudence of the banker, however, outweighed the 
indignation of the husband. To offend the First 
Consul might hurt his business. "Grant him nothing, 
but do not drive him to despair/' was in effect his 
counsel to the eighteen-year-old wife. So Lucien was 
kept dangling a year or more. 

After all, the prudence and complaisance of the 
husband availed nothing. The great Napoleon entered 
the lists himself. He had with Mme. Recamier even 
less success than his brother. She distrusted him from 
the first, arid when he became emperor hated him for 
having banished her friends Mme. de Stael and General 
Moreau, and for the part he took in the execution of 
the Duke d'Enghien — that execution which drew from 
Fouche the imm ortal epigram, "It was worse than a 
crime; it was a blunder." Accordingly when the 
emperor offered her a post as lady in waiting to the 
empress, she declined, though the offer was equivalent 
to a co mm and. Presently thereafter the Bank Reca- 
mier needed a million francs. The Bank of France, 
under Napoleon's do min ation, declined to furnish the 
sum, and complete smash followed. Even this catas- 
trophe did not satisfy Napoleon. Learning that Mme. 
Recamier had visited Mme. de Stael in exile, he exiled 
her as well. 

During this period of exile Julie traveled widely. 
Everywhere her loveliness excited even the passersby; 
everywhere new lovers came with prayers for favor. 
In England crowds gathered on the streets to see her 
pass. In Coppet, the retreat of Mme. de Stael, Prince 
Augustus of Prussia fell desperately in love with her 



236 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

and begged her to ask a divorce from her elderly 
husband and marry him. Either the exalted station 
of the prince or his ardor roused her cool blood for the 
moment, and she wrote her husband as the prince 
desired. M. de Recamier replied with kindness and 
without resentment. If she so desired, he said, he 
would go with her to some spot where they were not 
known and secure the divorce without scandal. But 
he recalled to her his affection since the days of her 
earliest youth, his present misfortunes and his impend- 
ing age. Her better nature was touched and the divorce 
abandoned. But the prince clung to hope to his dying 
day, years after. 

Most eminent of all who sought her favors and, 
when she was free, her hand, was Chateaubriand. 
Some hold that he alone, among all who sought, won the 
prize. Perhaps. It was not at all a day of morals, 
and unless the lady's demeanor was severe the worst 
was believed and said. And beyond doubt Julie loved 
this man and was more influenced by him than by any 
of the suitors who sought her. But when he offered 
more than she thought right to accept she drew back. 
Somebody said of her, "As she was too cool for pas- 
sion she was too prudent for sin," and her life would 
seem to justify the phrase. 

Returning to Paris after Napoleon's exile, the Reca- 
miers took up the old life on a less opulent scale. But 
even then disaster followed them. M. de Recamier 
failed again, this time losing 100,000 francs of his 
wife's money. Not in anger, but in sorrow, she there- 
upon left him, but continued to support him from the 
remnants of her private fortune. Her retreat was in 



MADAME RECAMIER 237 

the Abbaye (or convent) du Bois. Here she had a 
small suite, and in a small way her salon continued. 
The list of her guests included the great of all nations, 
and the record of her hospitality throws a strange light 
on convent customs of that day. 

She died in 1849. Perhaps no woman ever left more 
mourning friends. Her name survives her century, 
though it would puzzle students of character to tell why 
she should be so generally remembered. 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

(1720-1764) 
THE MOST SPLENDID ADVENTURESS 

ONE cannot write or read intelligently of the 
career of Mme. de Pompadour without keep- 
ing in mind the cynical sayings, "Other 
times; other morals/' and "Morality is largely 
a matter of geography." 

For this woman, beautiful, brilliant, intellectually 
able, ambitious and withal in a sense patriotic, was 
wholly destitute of moral sense. She sought to rule 
France through a weak and sensual king. She suc- 
ceeded. The price she paid was not merely her own 
virtue, but the shame and ignominy of procuring 
others to cater to the king's vices. Her reward was 
almost complete power in France and the servile 
adulation of princes and cardinals. 

The girl child destined to pass into history as Mme. 
de Pompadour was born in Paris in 1720 or 1722. 
In later years she naturally insisted on the latter 
date. Her parentage is as doubtful as the date of 
her birth. Some say her father was a butcher, other 
historians assert he was a sutler in the army con- 
demned to be hanged for frauds. Voltaire, whom she 
once patronized, describes him as an honest farmer. 
However, it appears that the only father she really 

(238) 




MADAME T)E rnMPADorii 

From tin- pttitilitHj l>tj S all it /', J/ "■■<'' <h: S<t i nl-Uiia f 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 239 

knew was one Lenormant de Tourneheim, a farmer- 
general of means, who adopted her, treated her with 
fatherly kindness and developed the best qualities of 
her mind. 

At that time the tone of life among the prosperous 
people in France was curious. No society has ever 
been less moral; none more intellectual. This girl, 
by the time she had reached the age of sixteen, had 
been made a pet by the brilliant men who moved 
about the salons of Paris, and by their wit and caustic 
pens laid the foundations of the revolution. Vol- 
taire, to mention only the sagest of them all, was so 
impressed with her that he noted in his memoirs: 
"She confessed to me that she had a secret presenti- 
ment that the king would fall in love with her and that 
she had a violent inclination for him." 

'Twas a long- span from the sutler father (perhaps) 
sentenced to be hanged, to the love of a king, but 
she bridged it. The first span of the bridge was her 
marriage with Lenormant d'Etoiles, an amiable young 
gentleman and joint heir with Jeanne — which by the 
way was the name given her on her adoption — to the 
farmer-general's large estate. The marriage was one 
of passionate love on his side, of calm calculation on 
hers. She needed the fortune it brought, and even 
more the complete freedom which even until our own 
day is granted to the married woman in France and 
denied to the young girl. With money, position and 
freedom, she set herself to attract the attention of 
the king. Her home in Paris was conducted in the 
stateliest style. Its luxury was the talk of the boule- 
vards and of the courts. Great ladies and famous 



240 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



actors, wits, poets, artists and travelers from all parts 
of the world made it their rendezvous. In its halls 
everybody was seen — except the king. So with un- 
daunted courage Mme. d'Etoiles pursued him in other 
ways. 

It took two years for the eager and aggressive 
beauty to catch the attention of the king. When 
at last she had won his royal favor it was only to 
find herself cast politely aside after a few hours of 
dalliance, as was the custom of this most oriental of 
monarchs. But even in those brief hours her vivacity 
and her wit impressed themselves upon him. A 
spoiled child of fortune, Louis XV suffered sadly from 
what we would call boredom. ' "Je suis ennuye" 
"I am bored," was his constant complaint. In the 
depths of idle gloom one day he complained of his 
sad lot to his valet. Binet, perhaps coached and 
bribed, reminded him of the pretty Mme. d'Etoiles 
whom he had known a month before. "Send for her/' 
said the king. She came and never again left Ver- 
sailles until she left in her coffin. 

The ascendency of Mme. de Pompadour over Louis 
was maintained not merely by her physical charms 
and her wit, but by the fact that she was a consum- 
mate politician and an adroit actress. Her control 
of the king enabled her to dispense favors about court 
with a right royal hand, but every beneficiary was 
expected to reciprocate by singing her praises to Louis. 
Voltaire, smoothest of courtiers, showed his apprecia- 
tion of this when she returned with the king from a 
successful, even glorious, military campaign. The 
other courtiers flocked to felicitate Louis, but the 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 241 

famous author and wit laid at the feet of the favorite 
this bit of fulsome flattery: 

"When Caesar, that charming hero whom Rome 
idolized, gained some brilliant combat, people compli- 
mented on it the divine Cleopatra; when Louis, the 
charming hero whom Paris makes her idol, gains a 
brilliant combat we must compliment on it the divine 
d'Etoiles." 

It was on returning from this campaign that Louis 
created Mme. d'Etoiles Marquise de Pompadour. 
Her position at court was, in fact, that of queen, for 
the true queen was a sad-faced, retiring little woman 
to whom no one gave the least heed. But it is proof 
of the Pompadour's wisdom that she knew her posi- 
tion, which seemed to be impregnable, might be over- 
thrown in a minute by the king's whim. She had to 
do with a blas6, indolent roue, without ideals or ambi- 
tion, content to let others reign in his name so long 
as he could escape the black spectre of boredom. 
Wise beyond womankind, she recognized that her 
beauty would not last forever, and that even at its 
zenith it might pall on the jaded passions of the mon- 
arch, so she called on her art as an actress, appearing 
before h\™ now as a modest, unsophisticated shepherd- 
ess, then as a dashing vivandiere full of military dash 
and insolence, or as a holy nun with cowled head and 
downcast eyes, telling her beads. It was the delight 
of the royal heart to sit at her dressing table and 
watch these metamorphoses. 

But she was too keen to rely wholly on her own 
charms. Always she feared lest some younger favorite 
should oust her from her place. To avert this she 

16 



242 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



established the notorious Pare au Cerfs (Stag's Park) 
a resort for the king when he was suffering from ennui. 
Chateaubriand described it as "that pillow of Louis 
XV's debauchery." The girls who were brought to 
entertain the king did not always come of their own 
volition. In many households of France, from peasant 
to peer, which had been violently invaded, the curses 
of the Pompadour were loud and deep. She, how- 
ever, went serenely on her way. To the unspeakable 
orgies of the Pare au Cerfs she added gorgeous f6tes 
and spectacles on the lawns of Versailles. The foremost 
artists of France staged the spectacles, world famous 
writers like Voltaire wrote the dialogues. All this cost 
money and the people grumbled. To them the Pompa- 
dour gave no heed. "After me the deluge!" was her 
motto. The deluge followed and the heads of Louis XVI 
and Marie Antoinette paid the Pompadour's penalty. 
Once only was her rule menaced. A fanatic named 
Damiens, brooding over the wrongs of the people, 
sought to assassinate the king. Louis concluded, not 
unreasonably, that the Pompadour was responsible 
for the discontent of which this was a symptom, and 
sent her away. But soon becoming ennuye he recalled 
her, and her power was not again interrupted until 
her death in 1764. A driving rain was pouring in tor- 
rents as her funeral cortege passed down the broad 
avenue of Versailles. From an upper window the king 
looked down upon the scene. "The marchioness will 
have bad weather for her journey," said he with a 
smile, and with that royal pleasantry Mme. de Pompa- 
dour was dismissed to her eternal reward — or punish- 
ment. 



MADAME DE MAINTENON 

(1635-1719) 
THE WIFE OF A HUNCHBACK AND OF A KING 

TO be born in a prison, spend her earlier years 
in penury narrowly approaching squalor, to 
marry one of the great monarchs of France 
and die in the odor of sanctity as his widow 
against whom the voice of scandal never has been 
raised, was the brief life story of Mme. la Marquise 
de Maintenon. In its singular inequalities of fortune 
not even the career of Nell Gwyn or the Empress 
Theodora was more remarkable, though the life of 
the French woman was a smooth and placid stream 
in comparison with their turbulent struggles upward. 
Historians differ as to the reasons which gave to 
the daughter of Constant d'Aubigne the sinister dis- 
tinction of being born in jail. Some aver that the 
family was imprisoned because of the father's undue 
sympathy for the Huguenots. Others assert that he 
was held behind the bars for debts incurred in gambling. 
At any rate, even the prison taint did not seem to 
estrange some influential friends, for the godparents 
of the child were the Due de la Rochefoucauld, father 
of the famous author of the " Maxims," and the 
Countess de Neuillant. Some powerful influence 
secured the release of d'Aubigne, and he went with 

(243) 



244 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



his family to Martinique, where he speedily gambled 
away what was left of his resources. 

Educated after a fashion by friendly relatives in 
France, whither she returned at the age of ten, the 
girl Frangoise at seventeen met the satirical poet 
Scarron, just then much in vogue in court and literary 
circles. Nature, in giving him a nimble wit, had almost 
spoiled the gift by inflicting upon him a sorely dis- 
torted body, so that he described himself as being 
built like the letter Z. Under a scoffing demeanor 
and a biting tongue the suffering poet must have had 
a good heart, for he offered to pay all the expenses 
of the penniless girl at a convent, or as an alternative 
to marry her, the latter not being, if the reports of her 
beauty are true, any particular self-sacrifice. She 
chose to marry him, despite his deformity, and while 
she made the few remaining years of his life happy 
and contented, it is fair to believe that his brilliant 
mind had much to do with shaping the intellect with 
which in later years she captivated Louis XIV. 

The circumstances under which the widow Scarron 
met this monarch were curiously out of harmony 
with her later relations with him. Louis as a man 
was a singular bundle of contradictions. Married, 
as happily as the state marriages of the day permitted 
to royal personages; deeply religious and most punc- 
tilious in his churchly observances, he yet employed 
to its fullest extent the prerogative of a king to main- 
tain mistresses. Yet even his left-handed associations 
were tempered by a certain religious spirit. Imbert 
de Saint Amand, famous as a writer of French history, 
points out how the devotional strain affected Louis 



MADAME DE MAINTENON 245 

in the prime of his life thus: "When it is remem- 
bered that at the age of forty-four, being still in the 
full vigor of moral and physical strength, he put an 
end to all scandals and thenceforth lived an irreproach- 
able private life until his death, in spite of the seduc- 
tions surrounding him on every side, it is impossible 
not to render homage to such a triumph of religious 
sentiment." 

Mme. Scarron, however, entered upon the life of 
the court in its unregenerate days. Her poet husband 
had died and, after the fashion of literary folk, had 
left his widow penniless. She, however, enjoyed a 
pension of 2,000 francs annually, obtained through the 
favor of the king's reigning favorite, Mme. de Mon- 
tespan. The chance came soon to do something to 
justify this pension, for a child was born to the king's 
mistress which it was obviously indiscreet to bring 
up at court. Mme. Scarron was chosen as a sort of 
a nurse-governess, and established in an isolated house 
far from the court. There, one after another, the 
illegitimate children of Louis XIV were brought up. 
In all, seven such were born, all of whom that out- 
lived infancy being legitimatized by the king. 

In the course of her semi-maternal service Mme. 
Scarron saw much of the king, and he came to enter- 
tain the highest admiration for her character. Her 
pension was increased by him, and she bought the small 
estate of Maintenon near the court, from which she 
presently took the name by which she is best known. 
Her influence with the king became recognized by the 
courtiers, and naturally by Mme. de Montespan, whose 
friendship grew cold as her jealousy grew hot. Yet 



246 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



it was an intellectual and religious ascendency and 
in not the slightest degree an improper one that the 
new favorite had gained over the king's mind. 

There is no doubt that Mme. de Maintenon strove 
to break off the immoral relations of Louis XIV and 
the Montespan, but there exists not a scintilla of evi- 
dence, scarcely even a hint, that she aspired to the 
latter's position. Her purpose, however, was accom- 
plished by the action of a lowly cleric of Versailles, 
who refused to admit Louis to communion while he 
maintained his immoral connection. Impressed by 
the refusal and by an impassioned sermon by the 
famous priest orator Bossuet, Louis first dismissed 
his favorite, then took her back, but consoled himself 
with a new favorite in the person of Mile, de Fontanges. 
The Montespan was fierce with rage. "There are 
now three of us mistresses," she said spitefully to 
Mme. de'Maintenon. "I in name, that girl (Mile, 
de Fontanges) in fact, and you in heart." The taunt 
was unjustified, but not long after Louis discarded 
both the old mistress in name and the new one in fact. 
Soon after the queen died, passing away in the arms 
of Mme. de Maintenon, whom she had ever esteemed. 

Shortly thereafter Louis married Mme. de Main- 
tenon. History does not tell how soon the marriage 
followed upon the queen's death. It is said that M* 
de Rochefoucauld, at the moment the queen's soul 
departed, seized Mme. de Maintenon's arm and pushed 
her into the king's apartment, saying, "This is not 
the time to leave the king alone; he wants you." 
She was fifty-two years old; he forty-eight. Both 
were past the heyday of youthful love and singularly 



MADAME DE MAINTENON 247 

serious in thought and demeanor. Their lives were 
henceforth consecrated to doing good and to the 
government of France. 

In the great gray chateau of Versailles to-day the 
tourist will be shown the private apartment of Mme. 
de Maintenon, whither at five each afternoon Louis 
repaired after his day with the court. Outside, by day 
and in the small hours of the night Louis held court 
hedged about by interminable formulas of etiquette and 
enlivened by the pleasures of the dance and the gaming 
board. But in the sequestered apartment sat the wife 
who was not quite a queen, leading the placid, colorless 
life which moralists applaud but which fails of interest. 
"Why," asked a famous French writer, "are we so 
tender-hearted for Mile, de la Valliere? I fear it is on 
account of her sin, not on account of her repentance. 
Why are we so hard toward Mme. de Maintenon? 
I greatly fear it is on account of her virtue." , 

The king, dying in 1715, left his wife, then eighty 
years old, a recluse in St. Cyr, a religious retreat for 
girls of noble birth, which they together had founded. 
There she lived four years longer in the odor of sanctity. 
Three-quarters of a century later the storm of revolu- 
tion broke over France. Lead was needed for the 
patriot bullets. It was well known that the bodies of 
bygone aristocrats had been enveloped in lead, and 
the bones of Mme. de Maintenon were torn from her 
tomb, stripped of their leaden covering and thrown 
with the similarly despoiled remains of kings and prel- 
ates into a common trench. So pass the glories of 
the world. 



MADAME DE STAEL 

(1766-1817) 
THE WIT OF THE FRENCH SALONS 

A WOMAN who could write sentimental novels 
which sold by the tens of thousands and are 
- now forgotten, while at the same time she so 
stung Napoleon by her witty attacks that he 
ordered her never to live within forty leagues of Paris; 
a true friend of the revolution, who did not even balk 
at the Terror, though it cost the lives of some of her 
closest friends; an intriguante who whispered into the 
ears of men in her salon novel thoughts which they 
proceeded to express in the national assembly on the 
morrow; a playwright and a philosopher; a globe 
trotter wandering all over Europe and failing at no 
point to sow some seeds of aversion to the emperor 
of the French who kept her "on the move" — all this 
and much more was Mme. de Stael, most brilliant 
of all the women of the French salons. She had every 
gift which fortune could lavish on a woman, save a 
pretty face — and, with a touch of the eternal woman 
amid the mannish activities of her life, she vowed she 
would sacrifice them all in exchange for the beauty 
with which nature had endowed her dearest friend, 
Mme. Recamier. 
The girl who developed into this woman of terrific 

(248) 




MATJAMK DK STAKL 

From the 'ptUHfintj hy F. <h mrd in the possesion of M. de ttroylie 



at Ftirts 



MADAME DE STAEL 249 

talents was born in Paris where her father, Necker, 
was minister of finance to Louis XVI. Necker was a 
genius. He was acceptable to the king and to the 
populace alike, no light achievement in the days when 
the rumblings of the coming revolution were to be heard. 
He was good to Necker also, and without offending 
the monarch or the people whom he served, rolled up 
for himself one of the greatest fortunes of the day. 
He married a Swiss woman of humble birth, Susanne 
Churchod, who must have possessed some shining 
qualities of intellect, for Gibbon, the great historian 
of the Roman empire, was desperately in love with 
her and would have married her, save for his smug 
subservience to British prejudices and the opinion of 
Mrs. Grundy. 

The girl, Germaine, was the one child of the Neck- 
ers. In reading of her childhood one is inclined to 
think that she must have been a most wearisome 
little prig and poseuse. Her childish letters to her 
parents were not childish, but the sentimental vapor- 
ings of a practiced phrase monger. She began writ- 
ing tragedies at twelve. For her reading she chose 
the sentimental and pathetic. "That which amused 
her was what made her weep," wrote her childhood's 
friend, Mme. Huber. At fifteen she had written reflec- 
tions on Montesquieu's "Spirit of the Law," and had 
been asked by the Abbe Raynal for an article on the 
"Revocation of the Edict of Nantes." Could any- 
thing better round out a pen portrait of this terrible 
infant? 

At twenty, being in Paris, rich, but with untitled 
parents and no assured place in society, she married 



250 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

the Baron de Stael-Holstein, Swedish ambassador. 
It does not appear that he cared much for her, nor 
she anything for him. But from her point of view 
he was the most eligible parti in sight — a nobleman, 
Protestant and a diplomatist with a most favorable 
standing at court. From his point of view her dowry 
of 2,000,000 francs had certain charms, for the baron 
was extravagant and self-indulgent. These mutual 
advantages they enjoyed together for years, then 
parted amicably without the embarrassing formality 
of a divorce. 

In the early days of the revolution she was its 
inspired prophetess and champion. She had been 
a student of Rousseau and had written a book about 
the author who had enthralled the highest intellects, 
and without whom, said Napoleon, " there would 
have been no revolution in France." When blood 
began to flow in the streets of Paris she was safe at 
Coppet, near Geneva. Would she stay there? Not 
she. Post haste she rushed back to the city which 
the prudent were leaving. She opened her first salon 
and made it the meeting place for the leaders of the 
revolutionary movement. Talleyrand, Lafayette, Bar- 
ras, Benjamin Constant and Narbonne were among 
its habitues. There she preached revolution and sowed 
the wind. 

But the time came when she reaped the whirlwind. 
The tempest she had raised grew beyond her control. 
Her friends began to fall before it, and she risked her 
own life in striving to save theirs. Seeking to flee 
the city, she was stopped by a mob who dragged her 
carriage to the Hotel de Ville. The populace, maddened 



MADAME DE STAEL 251 



by the luxury of her equipage, howled for her life, and 
she had but one protector, a gendarme who sat in the 
carriage with her and, charmed by her manner, swore 
to defend her with his life. It is said it was the same 
mob that the next day murdered the Princess de Lam- 
balle with unspeakable atrocities. 

Escaped from this peril and from Paris, she went 
to England, where was gathered a little company of 
exiles. There, and at Coppet, she worked with her 
pen until the return of order in Paris brought her back 
and she established her " Salon of the Directoire." 
This was short lived. She early won the disfavor of 
Napoleon, who remarked of her soirees, "that is not 
a salon; it is a club," and exiled her. Clubs at that 
time in Paris were purely political and usually against 
the government — hence the phrase. 

Exile was a bitter punishment for Mme. de Stael. 
The most exquisite pleasure of her life, she once said, 
was the pleasure of conversing in Paris. This being 
denied her, she plunged restlessly into travel and 
literary work. Germany was the country she first 
chose and after traveling from one end of it to the 
other, and fraternizing with Goethe, Schiller and Fichte, 
she wrote her book "Germany." This book, said one 
critic, "was the revelation of the genius of Germany 
to the French people." It was not the sort of revela- 
tion that pleased Napoleon and he had the 10,000 
copies of the book which had been printed in France, 
destroyed, and even sought to unearth the original 
manuscript that the work might be wholly blotted out. 
He failed in this, however, and in England and Ger- 
many the book created a sensation. It was by all 



252 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

odds her greatest work and by competent critics has 
been ranked with the writings of Herodotus. 

Shortly after this triumph Mme. de Stael gave 
evidence that she was a literary woman, with the 
accent on the woman. Her husband was dead, and 
to the amazement of her friends, she married M. de 
Rocca, a French officer, who had distinguished him- 
self in Spain. He was twenty-five to her forty-five, 
sickly and crippled from wounds — but what would 
you? She wanted him, it is said she proposed to him, 
and they lived happily until her death. The mar- 
riage was long kept secret, as she feared ridicule — 
another human touch in that superhuman mind. 

When "the Corsican ogre" was sent into final exile 
at St. Heleii^, Mme. de Stael returned to Paris and 
established her "Salon of the Restoration," which 
someone described as "more instructive than a book 
and more amusing than a play." To it came all the 
great figures of the time and the new king and even 
the Emperor of Russia swelled her glory, while the 
deposed Napoleon, whom she had so long fought, 
gazed reflectively out to sea from his lonely crag at 
St. Helena. But the salon was of short duration, for 
its chief spirit died prematurely at the age of fifty-one 
in 1817. 

Of her Benjamin Constant, her disciple and intimate, 
said, "If she gives herself up to her impetuous nature 
there is a commotion like a thunder-storm or an earth- 
quake. . . . Did she but know how to govern 
herself she could govern the world." 




SARAH, DUCHESS OF MARLBOROUGH 

From thf painting by Sir Godfrey Krt filer in the collect ion of Earl 

Spencer at Althorp 



SARAH JENNINGS, THE DUCHESS 
OF MARLBOROUGH 

(1660-1744) 



ff THE VICEROY OVER QUEEN ANNE 1 



IT is a curious fate that has caused the first Duchess 
of Marlborough, founder of that ducal house 
which at this moment (1913) has an American 
duchess for its chatelaine, to be remembered 
more for her abominable temper and her command 
of the vocabulary of invective and abuse than for her 
qualities of real greatness. For Sarah Jennings was 
really a great woman, whose hand was occupied in 
great matters. 

Associating with a queen on terms of the most 
perfect equality, she could nevertheless stoop to keep 
the palace servants in her pay so that all the gossip 
of the maids and the valets was brought to her ears. 
As Horace Walpole put it, she was equally interested 
in the affairs of Europe and those of the "back stairs." 
Penurious to the point of being a miser, she built 
the most magnificent palace in all England. A natural 
conspirator, she used her influence at court to secure 
opportunities for her husband which he, with notable 
genius as a general, improved to the fullest extent. 1 
A fierce and dominant spirit to the last, she defied 

(253) 



254 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

her physicians on her deathbed. "I won't be blis- 
tered, and I won't die," she cried when that form of 
treatment was recommended to her, nor did she die 
until several days thereafter. 

Sarah Jennings was the daughter of an English 
country gentleman of comfortable estate. At an early 
age she became the companion of tKe Princess Anne, 
who was about her own age and who later became 
Queen Anne of famous memory. With this lady when 
queen, as when princess, Sarah was on terms of the 
most perfect equality. Indeed, the two, wearying 
of employing resonant titles in their intercourse, 
assumed the humble names of "Mrs. Morley" and 
"Mrs. Freeman/ 7 and thus addressed each other. 

Romance came early into Sarah's life. One of the 
gentlemen of the bed-chamber of the Duke of York, 
afterward James II, was Colonel John ChurchilL 
This young gentleman was handsome, able, and with 
a manner which Lord Chesterfield declared "was 
irresistible either by man or woman." Moreover, he 
was determined to "get on." His family was even 
then distinguished in English politics and has since 
given to England some of its foremost statesmen, but 
what was more to John Churchill's advantage, it gave 
his sister to James II for his mistress. 
' Petticoat influence, indeed, contributed much to 
the early advantage of the future hero of the tented 
field, for his cousin, Barbara Villiers, was mistress of 
Charles II, and, falling violently in love with the hand- 
some young soldier, gave him $25,000 of Charles' 
money, wherewith he proceeded to marry his pretty 
cousin Sarah. She at the time was described as having 



SARAH JENNINGS 255 

"a face round and small, with soft, deep blue eyes; 
a nose somewhat retroussee; a delicate, rosy mouth 
on which no trace of temper had settled; a forehead 
white as marble; with blond, thick and glossy hair." 
For a time the marriage was kept secret. 

Political events moved swiftly at that time. Charles 
II died after a joyous reign, leaving behind him a 
desolate band of favorites and the title of "The Merry 
Monarch." James II, protector of Churchill, ascended 
the throne, only to be expelled by a bloodless revolution 
which put William of Orange and his wife, Mary, 
sister to Sarah Churchill's patron, the Princess Anne, 
on the throne. Straightway the two sisters began to 
quarrel. 

Disfavor came to the Marlboroughs in a queer way. 
King William cherished a plan to seize Dunkirk by 
surprise and wrest it from the French. He told it 
to Marlborough as one of his chief generals. Marl- 
borough told it to his wife as his commander-in-chief. 
She told it to Lady Oglethorpe and so the tidings 
spread until they reached the ears of Jean Bart, a 
dashing French seaman, half admiral, half pirate, 
who straightway saved the town. William was wrath- 
ful, and not unreasonably. Marlborough was in dis- 
grace and dismissed from his command. 

Everybody thought the countess would be for- 
bidden the court, but when weeks passed and that 
dread order was not issued she either thought the 
affair had blown over or else in a spirit of bravado 
determined to put her standing to the test. Accord- 
ingly she went to a court reception, setting gossips all 
agog with her audacity. She was properly frozen by 



256 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

the queen, who next day sent word to the Princess 
Anne that Lady Marlborough was insolent and must 
be dismissed from her service. Anne resolutely re- 
fused to disgrace her friend and confidant, and a day 
later was told to get out of Whitehall, the royal palace 
in which she had been housed. The Duke of Somerset 
lent her a house, whither she moved, much pleased 
with her loyalty to her friend but distressed because 
Lady Marlborough gave way to melancholy lest she 
had injured her husband's prospects. "For God's 
sake!" wrote" the kindly Anne, "have a little care of 
your own dear self. Give way as little to melancholy 
as you can. Try ass's milk." This remarkable 
remedy for the blues I have not met with before. 

But in 1702 Queen Mary died, Anne became queen 
and Lady Marlborough as her next and dearest friend 
began to be called "Queen Sarah." 

This should have been the final goal to her ambition, 
but she had so long patronized her patroness, so long 
ruled Princess Anne by force of her more dominant 
character, that haughtiness became insolence and she 
deferred no more to the queen than she had to the 
princess. The inevitable quarrel came at last over 
some trivial matter, and Lady Marlborough emerging 
from the royal presence, closed the door with so 
emphatic a bang that she was never asked to re- 
open it. 

So in the years when Lady Marlborough's influence 
at court should have been all powerful it was suddenly 
lost. But wrathful though she was, the wealth that 
came pouring in upon her soothed her spirits, always 
thrifty. Marlborough had won the battle of Blenheim, 



SARAH JENNINGS 257 

had been made a duke and the people of England were 
collecting for him the funds with which to build the 
colossal pile of Blenheim palace. His descendants 
have only been able to keep it up by the device of 
marrying American heiresses. The house cost to build 
over $1 ,500,000, and is perhaps as ugly an edifice as 
there is in all England. Marlborough and his duchess 
were in continual quarrels with the contractors, for 
the great man was as stingy as his wife. Swift once 
remarked, "I dare hold a wager that in all his cam- 
paigns Marlborough never lost his baggage." 

The last days of the Duchess of Marlborough were 
given over to incessant quarrels. One of her spats with 
her husband had a sequel which brought tears to even 
her hard old eyes. After a quarrel with him in youth, 
she remembered that he dearly loved her glossy hair 
and in a fit of rage cut it off, leaving the shorn locks 
where he could not fail to see them. He made not 
a word of comment on her shingled head, but after 
his death she found he had carefully gathered up the 
discarded tresses and put them away with his dearest 
treasures. 

The duchess was slow a-dying — like Charles II, 
who apologized to his courtiers for his unconscionable 
delay. From her bed she dictated six hours daily 
to Tooke, her biographer. Her pleasures were to play 
with three dogs, to grind out tunes on a hand organ, 
which she said was better than the opera, and to hate 
Sir Robert Walpole and Queen Caroline. She finally 
passed away October 6, 1744. 



17 



MLLE. DE LA VALLIERE 

(1644-1710) 
HEROINE OF A ROYAL ROMANCE 

ik MIDST the frivolous and mercenary beauties 
A-\ who danced attendance upon the pleasure^ 
-*- ^ loving French king, Louis XIV, Louise de 
la Valliere stands like a camelia among scar- 
let poppies. The love that she gave him was untainted 
by the slightest motive of self-interest, and that it 
was an unhallowed love was a fault that she bitterly 
repented, though powerless to repair. Sainte Beuve 
'writes of her, "She represents the ideal of the loving 
woman with all the qualities that we delight in giving 
to it — unselfishness, fidelity, unique and delicate ten- 
derness, and no less does she represent in its perfection 
a touching and sincere repentance." 

The story of the love that in the end made La 
Valliere one of those near and dear to the king — 
they were many, alas! for the monarch was not con- 
stant — is a curious and pathetic one. At the age of 
seventeen, being then described as "very pretty, very 
gentle and very artless," she was installed as maid of 
honor to the Duchesse d'Orleans, daughter of Charles 
I of England, and wife of the king's brother. It was 
the fashion to call the duke and duchess plain mon- 
sieur and madame, but they nevertheless maintained. 

(258) 




LOUISE DU LA VALLIK1M0 
From tlu; painting by Mi<ju<>r<l, Ujjlzl ( taller y, Florence 



MLLE. DE LA VALLIERE 259 



a true court, and one in which the tone was dis- 
tinctly intellectual as contrasted with the gayer coteries 
of that reign. To madame the classic dramatists 
Corneille and Racine owed much encouragement. 

On the surface there seemed hardly a circle in the 
court life of that day into which an innocent young 
girl could be introduced with less danger. But fate 
held in store for Louise a career of which she never 
dreamed, and which most decidedly she never would 
have chosen. Before her marriage madame, then 
Henriette of England, had been one of the princesses 
suggested as eligible to the hand of the King of France. 
Discussion of such a marriage was brief, as Louis 
showed clearly that it was not pleasing to him. But 
strangely enough when she came to Versailles as the 
wife of his brother he first found her pleasing and 
finally became deeply infatuated with her. To what 
extent his passion was reciprocated is unknown — at 
least, the poor lady on her early death-bed was able 
to say to her husband with apparent sincerity, "Mon- 
sieur, je ne vous ai jamais manque" (I have never 
wronged you.) Nevertheless their association created 
some scandal, but they were unwilling to break it off. 

Accordingly it was agreed that in order to explain 
his frequent visits to madame's court the king should 
feign to be madly in love with one of her maids of 
honor. Of course that would not wholly allay his 
wife's jealousy, which was rising to an alarming de- 
gree, but at least it would protect his majesty from 
suspicion of making love to his brother's wife. There 
were three maids attached to the person of madame. 
All were pretty. Which should have the honor of the 



260 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



king's addresses — feigned though they were to be? 
Madame's choice fell upon Louise de la Valliere. Was 
it perhaps because she was a little lame? Who could 
blame the mistress for not selecting an absolutely 
perfect beauty for her lover to make even pretended 
love to? Still the beauty of Louise was sufficient to 
kindle a fire in a lover's bosom. "She was lovable," 
writes Mme. de Motteville, "and her beauty had 
great charm from the whiteness and rosiness of her 
skin, from the blueness of her eyes, which were very 
gentle, and from the beauty of her flaxen hair which 
increased that of her face." 

The plan worked well — all too well, in fact. The 
conspirators had underestimated the fact that Louise 
was eighteen, fair to look upon and inclined to regard 
the king with reverence and awe, while the latter 
also was young, charming of address and of person. 
Whether Louise had been apprised of the little comedy 
in which she was to play a part is not recorded. At 
any rate, Louis played his part with such fidelity to 
truth that in two months he had won the "unstinted, 
and all-surrendering love of the young girl. 

The affection of Louise de la Valliere for Louis 
XIV was unique in the history of court amours. 
Though she bore him three children, she never flaunted 
her position as favorite in the faces of the court, nor 
employed it, as her predecessors and successors did, 
for personal or family advantage. Instead she was 
ashamed of her position and for a long time, with the 
king's aid, kept it a profound secret. Amazing stories 
are told of the way in which the birth of her first two 
children was concealed and of the brevity of her 



MLLE. DE LA VALLIERE 261 

absence from court functions at such moments. But 
before long, concealment was no longer possible. She 
appeared at all the court functions and in time was 
created a duchess. 

Even in the first days of her happiness La Valliere 
was ever thinking of the convent. Once after a mere 
"lover's spat" she fled from the Tuileries, leaving no 
word of her destination, and sought refuge in a convent 
at St. Cloud. The Lady Abbess refused to receive 
her, and the king, who had traced her steps and ridden 
furiously in pursuit, found her lying on the floor of 
the reception room, repulsed and broken hearted. She 
was taken back tenderly to the palace, but already 
the days of her happiness were numbered. Athenais 
de Montespan had won the king's affections after a 
brazen campaign. The blow to Louise was cruel, 
and made more so by the king's demand that she 
should pretend ignorance of his relations with de 
Montespan and live with that lady on terms of ap- 
parent intimacy and affection. This she did for seven 
long years. Some wondered that she would thus 
humble herself before a successful rival. The Princess 
Palatine once asked her concerning it. "She told me," 
said the Princess, "that God had touched her heart, 
had shown her her sin and that then she had thought 
she must do penance and suffer in the way that hurt 
her most — and this was to watch the king's heart turn 
away from her and disdain take the place in it which 
love had once filled." 

When freed at last from this cruel servitude La 
Valliere sought for the final time the Carmelite con- 
vent in the Rue St. Jacques. There was perhaps a 



262 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

touch of the dramatic in her renunciation of the world. 
A great crowd lined the street at the door of the con- 
vent. Without awaiting the expiration of her novi- 
tiate she had her flaxen hair cut off at once — thus 
sacrificing her earthly crown. The famous Bossuet 
preached the sermon of the irrevocable vow, and from 
the hands of the queen whose rival she had been, 
Louise received the black veil. 

She died then to the world, but lived within the 
convent until 1710. At heart she had been a true 
good woman. Perhaps Mme. de Sevign6 best summed 
up her character in referring to her as "that little 
violet hiding under the leaves, who was so ashamed of 
being mistress, mother and duchess; there will never 
be another of that mould." 



THEODOSIA BURR 

(1783-1812) 
WHOSE FATE IS AN UNSOLVED MYSTERY 

DARK tragedy enshrouds the life story of 
Theodosia Burr, perhaps the most cultivated 
and brilliant woman of her time, and the 
daughter of Aaron Burr, whose name sounds 
ill to American ears. Suffering and sorrow fell harshly 
upon her, and the very time and manner of her death 
being unknown, we are left to imagine it as being fit 
in horror to cap the climax of her tragic story. 

Yet her early life was happy, idyllic, save for the 
loss of her mother when she was but twelve years old. 
But even this loss was in part made up to her by the 
increased and unremitting attention of her father. 
Some have said that she was his very soul and, indeed, 
it is a matter of record that he did not embark on 
those doubtful and devious enterprises which brought 
down his illustrious career to shameful ruin until after 
her marriage. She was like him in thought, in nature, 
in education, in brilliancy and even in personal appear- 
ance. So wholly were the two at one that it is impos- 
sible to understand the daughter without some knowl- 
edge of her sire. 

Burr was one of the really great men of the forma- 1 
tive period of our nation. That in the end he sought 

(263) 



*264 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



to put his talents to unpatriotic uses does not disprove 
his possession of genius in the highest degree. His 
military service in the revolution was brilliant, so that 
he long preferred to base his fame upon his soldierly 
qualities rather than upon his knowledge of state- 
craft. With the completion of peace he laid down the 
sword and took up his law books, and at the age of 
thirty was a successful and prosperous lawyer in New 
York. No fame exceeded his save that of Alexander 
Hamilton, whom he later slew in a duel. The bullet 
that laid Hamilton low killed Burr's prospects as 
well. 

In 1782 Burr married a lady ten years his senior, 
the widow of a British officer and a woman of high 
cultivation. He was then with the tide that led on 
to fortune. When the British evacuated New York 
he took a town house in Maiden Lane and a country 
house at Richmond Hill, then two miles from the 
city, but now in its very heart. The latter was a 
stately edifice for the time and had been headquarters 
for Washington in 1776. Burr made it a center of 
political and intellectual society. He had a passion 
for books and his library was continually recruited by 
shipments from his London bookseller. In this library, 
one of the best of the day, Theodosia grew up, her 
childish tastes gently directed aright by a cultivated 
mother and a father who had determined that no man 
should excel in breadth of culture his daughter when 
she attained womanhood — and at that day a highly 
educated woman was a rarity this side of the Atlantic. 

When Theodosia was ten years old he encountered 
Mary Wollstoncraft's book, "A Vindication of the 



THEODOSIA BURR 265 



Rights of Women/' and was greatly impressed by it. 
"Is it owing to ignorance or prejudice/' he asked, 
"that I have not yet met with a single person who had 
discovered or would allow the merits of the work?" 
Nowadays the book seems a mere collection of truisms. 
But then it was audacious, revolutionary even, and 
Burr had the intellectual courage to direct his daugh- 
ter's studies according to its precepts. 

Upon her mother's death the girl of twelve became 
virtual mistress of the house. Her father installed 
a French governess and Theodosia soon became facile 
in the use of that tongue, entertaining Louis Philippe, 
Jerome Bonaparte, Talleyrand and Volney. Some- 
times her father's drafts on her capacity as a hostess 
seem rather heavy, as when he sent Brant, the Indian 
chief, to her with a note of introduction. But the four- 
teen-year-old hostess arranged a dinner party of dis- 
tinguished people and carried her duties lightly. 

In 1801, when only seventeen years old, Theodosia 
was married to Joseph Alston, a wealthy young rice 
planter of South Carolina. It does not appear that 
Burr opposed the match, grievous as the separation 
it entailed must have been to him. He even encour- 
aged and advised his son-in-law in the commencement 
of a political career that led him to the governorship 
of his native state. But whether by mere coincidence 
or as a result of the ensuing loneliness, the vicissitudes 
which later overwhelmed Burr seem to date from the 
time his daughter left his house. 

For the moment, however, all was gay. The bridal 
pair on their way to Charleston stopped at the new 
capital at Washington and saw Aaron Burr sworn in 



266 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

as vice-president. The earlier presidential contest 
had resulted in a tie vote in the electoral college, and 
the House of Representatives had elected Jefferson 
president and Burr to second place. On the surface 
Burr seemed at the very zenith of success, but the 
appearance was deceitful. He was within one step 
of the presidency, but Jefferson's implacable hatred 
barred the way. He was apparently rich, but in fact 
overwhelmed with debt, the result of his too lavish 
hospitality. With his adored daughter leaving him 
for a husband's home, his cup on the day of his in- 
auguration was not wholly sweet. 

The life of the Alstons was ideally happy. A son 
came to Theodosia, whom she named after her father, 
to whom he was ever a source of pride. When her 
twenty-first birthday arrived he gave a dinner at 
Richmond Hill and had her portrait placed in a chair 
and toasted by his guests. "We laughed an hour, 
danced an hour and drank your health," he wrote to 
Theodosia. While the letter was making its slow 
way to South Carolina Burr met Hamilton on Wee- 
hawken Heights and shot him dead. 

This is no place to discuss the duel nor the collapse 
of Burr's great scheme to build an empire in Mexico. 
Perhaps had Burr fallen in the duel he would have 
been canonized. As it was, he was execrated, and 
his trial for treason in connection with the Mexican 
scheme added to the blots upon his name. All this 
brought sorrow upon Theodosia, the more so since 
her husband was heavily involved in the essay at 
empire building. But her letters were full of comfort, 
and during the long ordeal of the trial she sat by his 



THEODOSIA BURR 267 

side. After acquittal by the court, but condemnation 
by the public, he went abroad. Public clamor in time 
died down and the broken old man, returning from 
Europe, was kindly received in New York. But 
Theodosia's joy was harshly checked by the death of 
her son. "Theodosia has endured all that a human 
being could endure," wrote her husband to Burr, 
"but her admirable mind will triumph. She supports 
herself in a manner worthy of your daughter." 

As the hurt child runs to its parent, so Theodosia, 
in this hour of anguish, sought her father. She took 
a ship alone for New York, put bravely out to sea 
and was never heard of again. Of ship, passengers 
and crew all trace was lost. No bodies came ashore, 
nor tell-tale wreckage was sighted. So complete was 
the obliteration of all that it was suggested that pirates 
might have scuttled the ship and murdered her com- 
pany, taking the women to one of their island strong- 
holds. To this Aaron Burr would never listen. "No, 
no, no!" he cried, "if my Theo had survived that 
storm she would have found her way to me. Nothing 
could have kept my Theo from her father." 



SUSAN B. ANTHONY 

(1820-1906) 
A LIFE-LONG CHAMPION OF WOMAN'S RIGHTS 

TO-DAY when the status of women in most 
states of the American union before the law 
is practically that of man except so far as the 
right to vote is concerned — and in 1913 that 
right is fully conceded by nine of the states and par- 
tially in most of the others — to-day when women can 
hold, sell and devise property, when the wife has a 
right to her earnings, when all the learned professions 
and a host of minor occupations are open to the sex, 
the conditions which first forced Susan B. Anthony 
into a lifetime of work for the rights of women seem 
almost incredible. 

Miss Anthony used to enliven her speeches demand- 
ing legal equality for women with this story for the 
truth of which she vouched: "A farmer's wife in 
Illinois, who had all the rights she wanted, had made 
for herself a full set of false teeth. The dentist pro- 
nounced them an admirable fit; she on her part said 
it gave her fits to wear them. He sued her husband 
for his pay, and the latter's counsel put the wife, the 
wearer of the teeth, on the stand to testify to their 
worthlessness. But the judge ruled out her testimony, 
saying, 'A married woman cannot be a witness in 

(268) 




tfluSAN h. ANTHONY 



SUSAN B. ANTHONY 269 

matters of joint interest between herself and her 
husband.' Think of that, ye good wives! The teeth 
in your mouth are a matter of joint interest with your 
husband about which you are legally incompetent 
to speak !" 

In Miss Anthony's earlier days not only the col- 
leges, but even the high schools were closed to women, 
with the result that those whose parents could not 
afford private tutors grew up illiterate. Medicine, 
the law and the pulpit, in all of which women of to-day 
have won eminence, were barred against them. Few 
industrial pursuits offered them place. For the un- 
married and unmonied woman there was no means of 
livelihood save teaching, at a beggarly wage, sewing 
or some menial occupation. 

Susan B. Anthony, who consecrated her life to fight- 
ing the limitations thus placed upon her sex, was born 
of Quaker parentage, at South Adams, Mass., Febru- 
ary 15, 1820. Though her father was a Quaker, he 
was a mili tant one and suffered the ignominy of public 
reprimand for insisting upon wearing the kind of 
clothing he fancied, being ultimately expelled from 
" meeting" because he allowed the use of one of his 
rooms by a dancing class. He declared it kept the 
class away from a public place where liquor was sold, 
but his defense was unavailing. In his early days 
Mr. Anthony was rich, but gave all his children such 
an education as would enable them to support them- 
selves should disaster overtake him — as in fact it did. 
At fifteen Susan was teaching in a Quaker school for 
one dollar a week and her board. This she did to 
gain experience, but within two years the reverses he 



270 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

had apprehended overtook her father and ever there- 
after she was self-supporting. Until her thirtieth 
year she taught continuously, and as an active member 
of the New York State Teachers' Association suc- 
ceeded in securing much helpful legislation for teachers. 

But her real instinct was for public life. In part 
this sprung from her father's public-spirited and pro- 
gressive mind, partly it came from her early associa- 
tion with the Quakers, who held the right of women 
to be heard in public meeting equal to that of men. 
The Society of Friends held to the equality of sexes 
and abhorred slavery, and Miss Anthony fought for 
the one and against the other. 

Her first active public work, however, was in the 
struggle against intemperance. It was a time of 
practically universal addiction to liquor. The farmer's 
barn was "raised" with demijohns of rum and the 
harvest was garnered by the aid of the same stimulant. 
Abstinence was an eccentricity and drunkenness a 
gentlemanly diversion. But in the course of her 
assaults upon this evil she became convinced that it 
could only be abated through the ballot. She had 
"no time to dip out vice with a teaspoon while the 
wrongly adjusted forces of society are pouring it in 
by the bucketful." Even the ballot, she found, was 
not, as then held and cast, an efficient weapon against 
the foe- After observing impatiently the cool indiffer- 
ence with which delegations of women were treated in 
political conventions she vowed to fight for votes for 
women, and, joined with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, led 
that fight until the day of her death. 

In the days just prior to the Civil War Miss Anthony 



SUSAN B. ANTHONY 271 

gave much of her time and energy to anti-slavery 
work. Indeed, the freedom of the slave, votes for 
women and the destruction of the liquor power were 
the issues that ever occupied her mind. Among her 
intimates in those days were Lloyd Garrison, Wendell 
Phillips, Frederick Douglass and other abolitionists, 
and if her home was not a regular station on the 
underground railroad, it was at least a watering place. 

Her real fight came, however, when it was desired 
to maintain Lincoln's emancipation proclamation by 
a constitutional amendment forever prohibiting slav- 
ery. To aid in this work the Woman's National 
Loyal League was formed in 1863 with Mrs. Stanton 
as president and Miss Anthony secretary. Its task 
was to awaken public sentiment by writing and speak- 
ing, and to secure signatures to petitions to Congress. 
Miss Anthony was untiring in this work and raised 
all the money necessary for the work, and by August, 
1864, petitions with more than 400,000 signatures 
had been sent to Washington. Senator Sumner de- 
clared that these " petitions were the bulwark of the 
demand for the thirteenth amendment." 

But alas! In the end all their efforts were em- 
ployed by Congress in a way which the devoted women 
thought a direct stroke at their cherished doctrine, 
"Votes for Women." While still engaged in collect- 
ing and forwarding signatures they learned to their 
wrath and indignation that Congress intended to 
propose another amendment, granting negro men the 
suffrage and employing the word "male" in such a 
way as to make it clear that under the constitution 
only males were entitled to the franchise. Prior to 



272 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



this amendment much doubt rested upon this point — 
and for that matter does still. Miss Anthony and her 
colleagues felt that the politicians had taken the fruits 
of their efforts and repaid them by betrayal. So, 
changing front, they fought the fourteenth amendment, 
but to no avail. It was adopted to the lasting regret 
of the country. 

In 1872, for the purpose of making a test case, 
Miss Anthony attempted to vote at Rochester. She 
was arrested and put on trial before an Associate 
Justice of the United States Supreme Court, who 
discharged the jury, himself pronounced her guilty 
and fined her $100. "Resistance to tyranny/ 7 said 
Miss Anthony, addressing the court, "is obedience to 
God, and I shall never pay a penny of this unjust 
claim." And she never did. 

With Mrs. Stanton in 1868 she established in New 
York a weekly paper called The Revolution, of which 
she acted as business manager and to maintain which 
she busied herself on the lecture platform. For, like 
most radical papers, The Revolution did not pay, though, 
like most revolutions, it cleared the ground that others 
were to till. In two years it had consumed all the 
money she could raise and involved her in debts amount- 
ing to $10,000, all of which were punctiliously paid. 
In a sense Miss Anthony was no journalist, though 
a born agitator. She did not write easily, and when 
she came to prepare her monumental "History of 
Woman Suffrage" from material she had been years 
gathering, she did the editorial work while others did 
the actual writing. 

In organization work she was a genius, The first 



SUSAN B. ANTHONY 273 

state, national and international Equal Suffrage Asso- 
ciation was created by her, the last in 1888, and from 
the nucleus then established has grown up a permanent 
organization of many millions of women, with branches 
in more than twenty countries. Her work of over 
fifty-seven years on the lecture platform gave her a 
facility in repartee which opponents learned to dread. 
"You are not married," said a well-known abolition- 
ist to her once. "You have no business to be dis- 
cussing marriage." 

"Well, Mr. May," she replied, "you are not a slave. 
Suppose you quit lecturing on slavery." 

Miss Anthony died March 13, 1906, having lived 
to see most of the reforms she fought for accomplished, 
and her great desire, woman suffrage, so far advanced 
that its complete victory in the United States is a 
mere matter of time. With her the cause of women 
took the places of husband, children and society; it 
was to her at once religion, politics, work and pleasure. 
"I know only woman and her disfranchised," she was 
wont to say and this single-hearted purpose she pur- 
sued until death. 



IS 



ELIZABETH CADY STANTON 

(1815-1902) 
A WIFE, MOTHER AND EMINENT SUFFRAGIST 

IF the effigy of any American woman merits being 
set on a high pedestal in recognition of her ser- 
vices to her sex, it is that of Elizabeth Cady Stan- 
ton. Yet curiously enough her strength arose 
from early revolt against being of the weaker sex at 
all. When she was eleven years old her only brother 
died and, as she tried with childish arts to console 
her father, he said with a deep sigh, "Oh, my daughter, 
I wish you were a boy!" She thereupon determined 
to be all that a boy could be. In her memoirs she tells 
how she began this task: 

" I hastened to our good pastor, Rev. Simon Hosack, 
who was always early at work in his garden. . . . 
i " 'My father/ I said, 'prefers boys; he wishes I 
was one, and I intend to be as near like one as pos- 
sible. I am going to ride on horseback and study 
Greek. Will you give me a Greek lesson now, doctor? 
I want to begin at once/ 

" 'Yes, my child/ he said, rising and throwing down 
his hoe, 'come into my library and we will begin at 
once.' " 

In the effort thus begun she never faltered. Her 
outdoor sports were those of boys, in school she ranked 

(274) 




ELIZABETH CVDY STANTON 



ELIZABETH CADY STANTON 275 



most of the male scholars. At last she took a prize 
in Greek and carried it triumphantly to her father, 
sure that now "he recognized the equality of the 
daughter with the son, (but) he kissed me on the fore- 
head and exclaimed with a sigh, 'Ah, you should have 
been a boy!' " 

It was a cruel stroke to deal the child, though the 
father was unaware of her ambition. But by this 
time her mind was fixed on achieving equality with 
man, and her life was devoted to winning that equality 
before the law for all women. 

The parents of Elizabeth Cady were people of stand- 
ing. Her father had been a federalist representative 
in Congress and a justice of the New York Supreme 
Court. Her mother was one of the New York Liv- 
ingstons and daughter of a member of Gen. Washing- 
ton's staff. Indeed, it was this maternal grandfather 
who, being suspicious of a certain British man-of-war 
lying off West Point, fired an unauthorized cannon ball 
into her. The vessel made off and Col. Livingston 
had, all unwittingly, blocked Arnold's treason. Wash- 
ington afterward rebuked him coldly for acting without 
orders; then thanked him warmly for saving West 
Point. 

Working hard with her books, Elizabeth fitted her- 
self for her brother's college, Union, and passed the 
examination, but, being only a girl, was denied admis- 
sion. At that time no colleges and few if any high 
schools were open to girls. She lived to see all high 
schools equally open to the sexes and all state univer- 
sities coeducational save those of Virginia, Georgia 
and Louisiana. While pursuing her studies she used 



276 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



to frequent her father's law office and had her young 
wrath roused by some of the stories told by women 
who came for legal advice. Her attention thus called 
to the manifold injustices perpetrated upon women in 
the name of the law, she thought to remedy the situa- 
tion by cutting the obnoxious statutes out of her father's 
law books. This simple cure he stopped by explain- 
ing to her how laws were made and advising her to get 
after the lawmakers. The advice was tendered in 
jest, but accepted in earnest. Elizabeth kept after 
the lawmakers the rest of her life. 

Life in Johnstown, N. Y., in those days was intel- 
lectually stimulating, and much of her time was spent 
at the house of Gerrit Smith, the well-known abolition- 
ist at Peterboro, nearby. Her friends and associates 
were wrapped up in the abolition movement and in 
allied reforms, though in preaching freedom for women 
she led all the rest. It was at Peterboro that she met 
Henry B. Stanton, a famous anti-slavery orator, and 
became engaged to him. The period of the engagement 
could not have been very blissful to either, for she was 
racked with doubts as to the wisdom of giving up her 
freedom, for what was then the practical slavery of 
marriage. She could not forget the v dictum of Black- 
stone that "a man and his wife are one and the man is 
the one!" In the end, however, she braved the matri- 
monial peril, and showed a very unfeminine strength 
of mind by even getting married on a Friday. "As 
we lived together without more than the usual matri- 
monial friction," she writes, "for nearly half a cen- 
tury, had seven children, all but one of whom are still 
living, and have been well sheltered, clothed and fed, 



ELIZABETH CADY STANTON 277 

enjoying sound minds in sound bodies, no one need be 
afraid of going through the marriage service on Friday, 
for fear of bad luck." 

Mrs. Stanton in herself offered a complete refutation 
of the shallow and flippant criticisms brought against 
"advanced" women. She was a wife, mother, beau- 
tiful, graceful, exquisite in dress. T iHer voice was low 
and well modulated; her wit acute, her good humor 
unruffled in debate. 

July 19, 1848, the first Woman's Rights Convention 
was held at Seneca Falls, N. Y. Its leading spirits 
were Mrs. Stanton and Luc retia Mott, but about them 
were gathered an earn est *body of thinking men and 
women, whose names we identify with the anti-slavery 
cause rather than woman's rights. There was a chorus 
of sneers and snarls from the press. Mrs. Stanton said 
afterwards that with all he r courage had she had any 
premonition of the storm of ridicule and denunciation 
which greeted their me eting she would never have dared 
to brave it. Her own father* on reading the demand 
of the meeting for woman suffrage rushed down to 
Seneca Falls to see if his daughter had lost her mind. 
Yet that is the only plank in their platform which 
Mrs. Stanton did not live to see effective, but complete 
suffrage in nine states and restricted suffrage in most 
of the others to-day gives earnest that it will ulti- 
mately win. One plank declared for equal rights to 
education— that need has been met. Another 
demanded the opening of the fields of industry to 
women— to-day nearly six million women are engaged 
in occupations other than domestic service. Another 
still demanded equality for women before the law, so 



278 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

that she might collect her own wages, do business in 
her own name, own and devise her property. In prac- 
tically every state this is now conceded. 

A truly epochal event in Mrs. Stanton's life was her 
meeting with Susan B. Anthony in 1851. Thenceforth 
the two were as one in thought and work. Together 
they "stumped'' Kansas and Michigan in behalf of 
women's suffrage, and carried the agitation into states 
where the blanketed Indian, tomahawk and all, was 
still in evidence. Together they established The 
Revolution in New York, nursed it tenderly for two 
years and paid its debts after its demise. Together 
they wrote and published "The History of Woman 
Suffrage in America," a monumental and needed book, 
which, however, engulfed all the money the two could 
earn on the lecture platform. Few friendships and few 
literary copartnerships have been so enduring. The 
one woman was the complement of the other, the two 
doing successfully the work at which either alone might 
have failed. 

This friendship endured for life, and when Miss 
Anthony at New York, October 26, 1902, looked down 
on the dead face of her friend she said, "Oh, this awful 
hush! It seems impossible to believe that voice is 
stilled which I have loved to hear for fifty years." 



LUCY STONE 

(1818-1893) 

A CHAMPION OF LIBERTY FOR SLAVES AND FOR 
WOMEN 

THE gospel of revolt against the domination of 
woman by man was never more ardently or 
eloquently preached than by Lucy Stone. Her 
childhood was spent in a household in which the 
father stood by all the laws that then denied to woman 
any identity of her own. Francis Stone was a good busi- 
ness man, a man of energy and, according to the time, 
a good husband and father. But it never occurred to 
him that the Decalogue erred in classing a man's wife 
with "his man-servant, or his maid-servant, his ox or 
his ass," and he accepted as just the law which deprived 
women of a vote along with convicts, paupers and the 
insane. 

Against this code Lucy revolted at an early day. 
She encountered in the Scriptures one day the text, 
"Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule 
over thee." Staggered at first by this flat assertion of 
woman's subjection, she ultimately concluded that as 
the oppressor, man, had translated the Bible he had 
distorted this passage to his own advantage. Accord- 
ingly she determined to go to college, study Greek and 
Hebrew and consult the original text for herself. Get- 

(279) 



280 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



ting to college was not so easy. Her father, who had 
just helped to put her brother through college, remarked 
on hearing that his daughter wanted an equal education 
with his son, "Is the girl crazy?" It may be remarked 
in passing that the favored son does not figure prom- 
inently in history, while the " crazy" girl made a place 
in the world and in history for herself. 

The only college then open to women was Oberlin, 
which at the same time was the only college open to 
negroes. The freedom of the slave and the emancipa- 
tion of women were reforms that long went hand in 
hand, and it is interesting to speculate on the causes 
which gave full citizenship first to the ignorant blacks. 
To go to Oberlin would cost money. Lucy began by 
picking and selling blackberries and chestnuts. Study- 
ing the while she fitted herself to teach minor schools 
and for a time earned the dismal pay of a dollar a week, 
being "boarded round" with the parents of her pupils. 
Keeping up her own studies, she became fitted for better 
schools and in time was getting $16 a month — "very 
good pay for a woman," said the thrifty Massachusetts 
school trustees. That "for a woman" made Lucy 
writhe. It was either fair pay or niggardly. The sex 
of the recipient had nothing to do with it. 

When she was twenty-five years old she had saved 
$70 and started to Oberlin with it. It was a long 
journey from eastern Massachusetts to Ohio and the 
money needed to be carefully hoarded to carry her 
through. The last part of the trip was by boat from 
Buffalo across Lake Erie. There was no cabin for the 
ambitious student, but she slept on a pile of sacks on 
deck with a number of other women in as sore straits 



LUCY STONE 281 



as she. At Oberlin she taught in the preparatory 
department, did housework for three cents an hour, 
cooked her own meals, limiting her expenditures for 
food to fifty cents a week. Withal she studied, took 
high rank in her classes, and in her last term was asked 
to write a commencement day essay. Finding that 
even in Oberlin women were not permitted to appear 
on the platform, but that a professor would read the 
essay for her, she declined. The platform became 
familiar enough to her before long. 

She returned to Massachusetts the first woman of that 
state to have taken a college degree. At once she 
entered public life, speaking first on " Woman's Rights" 
from her brother's pulpit and then becoming a regular 
lecturer for the Anti-Slavery Society. New England 
was strenuously pro-slavery at that time and almost 
equally averse to the emancipation of women. Accord- 
ingly the experiences of women on the platform were 
not always pleasant. A clergyman at Maiden, Mass., 
being asked to give a notice of her meeting did so thus : 

"lam asked to give notice that a hen will attempt to 
crow like a cock in the town hall at five o'clock to-mor- 
row evening. Those who like such music will, of course, 
attend." 

In Connecticut one cold night some one thrust a 
hose through the window and deluged her with icy 
water as she stood on the platform. She wrapped a 
shawl about her and continued her plea. On Cape Cod 
she addressed an open air meeting with a number of 
other speakers. The mob became threatening and one 
by one the men on the platform withdrew until she was 
left alone with one Stephen Foster. "You had better 



282 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



go, Stephen," she said, seeing a movement in the crowd, 
"they are coming." 

"Who will take care of you?" he asked. Just that 
moment a colossal man sprang to the platform, club 
in hand, intent on mischief. "This gentleman will 
take care of me," said Miss Stone in her exquisite voice. 
Taken by surprise, the rough rose to the occasion. 
Taking her arm in his, he led her through the crowd, 
mounted her on a stump and protected her while 
she finished her speech. She so won her audience that 
they collected $20 to pay the gentle Stephen Foster for 
the coat they had torn from his back. 

Some slight difference arose between Lucy Stone and 
the Anti-Slavery Society because she put too much 
woman's rights in her lectures. After first seeing 
Powers' statue, "The Greek Slave," she delivered a 
powerful speech with it for the theme. "Lucy, that 
was beautiful," said the Rev. Samuel May, who was in 
authority, "but on the anti-slavery platform it will 
not do." 

"I know it," she replied with some contrition, "but 
I was a woman before I was an abolitionist and I 
must speak for the women." 

In 1855 Henry B. Blackwell, a young merchant of 
Cincinnati, an abolitionist upon whose head some 
people in Memphis, Tenn., had put a price of $10,000 
because of his activity, heard her speak and vowed to 
marry her. He had never met her, but with a letter 
of introduction from Henry Ward Beecher went to her 
home full of ardor. He found her standing on the 
kitchen table, whitewashing the ceiling, but persuaded 
her to descend from this eminence and give ear to his 



LUCY STONE 283 



tale of love. For a time she hesitated about giving 
up her work, but he promised to join in the work and 
be as active as she. Such promises have been made 
only to be forgotten, but it is right to say of Mr. Black- 
well that he was as good as his word, and to the end was 
not merely a loving husband, but an efficient and help- 
ful associate. After their marriage she retained her 
maiden name with his fullest approbation. 

To the end of her days Mrs. Stone worked for the 
advancement of women. To one who late in life ex- 
pressed regret that she could not witness the fruition of 
her labors, she replied, "Perhaps I shall know it where 
I am, and if not I shall be doing something better. 
I have not a fear, nor a dread, nor a doubt." Her last 
words, whispered to her daughter, were: "Make the 
world better." 

She died, October 19, 1893. With characteristic 
modesty she had advised against a church ceremony, 
but 1,100 people gathered in the little town to hear 
eminent men and women pay tribute to her worth. 



JULIA WARD HOWE 

(1819-1910) 
AUTHOR OF THE BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC 

IN a time of national storm and stress ; in a day of 
the roaring of cannon and cries of brothers clinched 
in the strife of civil war ; the inspiration came to 
Julia Ward Howe to write a noble hymn which 
ought to be a national anthem, but for some reason 
is not. A million men in war and in peace have sung 
the doggerel of "Marching Through Georgia" to a 
handful who can recall the sonorous symphony of the 
"Battle Hymn of the Republic." Yet the latter was 
written to a well-known popular air and there is a 
reverberating resonance in such stanzas as: 

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, 
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored, 
He hath loosed the fateful hghtning of His terrible swift sword, 
His truth is marching on. 

It was in the very earliest days of the war that this 
poetic inspiration came to Mrs. Howe. She was in 
Washington in 1861 and after the fashion of holiday 
makers of the time, went out to see a review of Federal 
troops. A sudden rumor that the enemy was approach- 
ing ended the review untimely, and Mrs. Howe and her 
party were escorted back to the capital by a small 
detachment. On the way the soldiers sang "John 

(284) 




JULIA WARD HOWE 



JULIA WARD HOWE 285 



Brown's body/' and James Freeman Clarke, who was 
with Mrs. Howe, seeing her much moved by the sing- 
ing, said to her: 

" You ought to write some new words to that tune." 
"I will," she responded fervently, and that night 
retired thinking of the task she had set herself. She 
awoke in the gray dawn to find that in the strange 
subconscious workings of the brain in slumber the words 
of her hymn had fitted themselves to the air and she 
had but to set them down. The song won instan- 
taneous appreciation. It was sung by churches, by 
choral societies, by weary soldiers about campfires 
and by starving captives in Libby Prison and at Ander- 
sonville. Until the day of her death the author never 
appeared in public without being asked to read it, 
for it was emphatically the grand achievement of her 
life. By some one it was called "the Marseillaise of 
the unemotional Americans." And yet it never quite 
won the place its poetry deserved. Men went into 
battle singing of "John Brown's body" or "We'll hang 
Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree," while the grand 
phrases of the ambitious "Battle Hymn of the Repub- 
lic" were forgotten. 

The woman who thus almost reached the highest 
pinnacle of achievement — for to write the songs of a 
people has been held greater than to make their laws — 
was born to the purple, if the United States at that 
day furnished a parallel to that imperial color. Her 
father, Samuel Ward, was one of New York's most 
prosperous bankers. Her birthplace was Bowling 
Green, the little oval at the foot of Broadway now 
faced by the granite custom house, but then the site 
of the city's most luxurious residences. 



286 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



Her family were allied with the Astors. Her sister 
became the wife of Thomas Crawford, a famous sculp- 
tor, and the mother of F. Marion Crawford, the more 
famous novelist. One brother, "Sam" Ward, became 
famous as a wit and an epicure, whose name is handed 
down to posterity as the distinguishing title of a cock- 
tail and a sauce. 

In 1843 she married Dr. S. G. Howe, a philanthropist 
whose untiring endeavors in perfecting measures for 
the education of the deaf and dumb gave him inter- 
national fame. He opened the doorways of the mind 
to Laura Bridgman, a blind, deaf and dumb girl, an 
earlier example of the Helen Keller of our own day. 
Dr. Howe's home in Boston was the resort of the mem- 
bers of the most thoroughly intellectual circle the 
United States has ever known. It was a day when 
every Bostonian had an "ism." Bronson Howard 
and Margaret Fuller were preaching transcendental- 
ism so that they only could understand it. George 
Ripley was experimenting with Fourierism at Brook 
Farm with fine results in the cultivation of minds, but 
niggardly returns from the cultivation of the fields his 
disciples were supposed to till. As Mrs. Howe, sud-. 
denly introduced to this society, wrote ,"I was now to 
make the acquaintance of the Boston of the teachers, 
of the reformers, of the cranks and also of the apos- 
tles." 

In the society that gathered about her hearth only 
the dullest mind could fail to find interest and profit. 
The list of her guests sounds like a directory of New 
England authors. "When I think of it," she writes, 
"I believe that I had a salon once upon a time. I did 



JULIA WARD HOWE 287 

not call it so, nor even think of it as such; yet within 
it were gathered people who represented many and 
various aspects of life. They were real people, not 
lay figures distinguished by names and clothes/' 

With the possible exception of her "Battle Hymn," 
Mrs. Howe's writings were wholly fugitive. Two plays 
came from her pen — one written for the elder Sothern 
was produced but quickly entombed; the other, a 
classic drama in blank verse for Edwin Booth and 
Charlotte Cushman, was never staged. No books, 
save a collection of occasional verse, bear her name. 

Despite, however, this meagre personal record, Mrs. 
Howe's whole life was spent in intellectual and liter- 
ary activity. Her activity in club work won her the 
name of "queen of clubs." A ready speaker, she lec- 
tured in all parts of the United States and in several 
European cities. Moreover, she occupied for some time 
the pulpit of the Unitarian church in Boston with which 
she was affiliated. Anti-slavery, woman suffrage and 
international arbitration were the causes to which she 
devoted her best efforts. While far less militant and 
self-sacrificing than either Susan B. Anthony or Eliza- 
beth Cady Stanton, she efficiently supplemented 
their work, reaching a class in the community which 
they could less readily interest. 

Among the intimates of her Boston home was Sena- 
tor Charles Sumner, at that time a hero to New Eng- 
land. Mrs. Howe seems to have been shrewd enough 
to see a little deeper into him than his worshippers. 
Once she invited him to meet Edwin Booth, then just 
coming into prominence. S umn er declined, writing 
with supreme egotism, "The truth is, I have got 
beyond taking an interest in individuals." 



288 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

"God Almighty has not got so far/' noted Mrs. 
Howe in her diary. Later she showed him the diary 
and he begged her to scratch out the comment. 

The circumstances of Mrs. Howe's life all made for a 
long life. At seventy she considered herself young 
and at ninety was still sitting on the platform at pub- 
lic meetings, reading the Battle Hymn and appearing 
before legislatures and investigating committees. In 
that year some one sent her a birthday card reading, 
"Greetings to Boston's greatest trinity: Howe, Hig- 
ginson and Hale." All were of very advanced years, 
and with a smile she remarked, "Well, they can't say 
we drop our H's in Boston." 

Mrs. Howe died October 17, 1910, at her home near 
Newport. To few have been granted so long, useful 
and happy a life. 



FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE 

(1820-1910) 
THE ENGLISH SOLDIER'S ANGEL OF MERCY 



N 



11 ^ ^URSING is an art; and if it is to be made 

an art, requires as exclusive a devotion, 

as hard a preparation, as any sculptor's 

or painter's work; for what is the having 

to do with dead canvas or cold marble compared 

with having to do with the living body, the temple of 

God's spirit?" 

So wrote Florence Nightingale, first of all the noble 
army of women who have given their lives to the ame- 
lioration of human suffering. In this twentieth century 
of ours there are scores, hundreds, perhaps thousands 
of women who are trained to do what Miss Nightin- 
gale did. We have not merely our trained nurses, our 
organizers of hospital service in the field, like the late 
Clara Barton, but our women doctors as well — a class 
unknown in her day. Florence Nightingale not only 
did nobly, but did it first. Many a ship crosses the 
Atlantic now, but the fame of Columbus remains 
undimmed. Mankind loves the leader and in her field 
Florence Nightingale was as truly as Columbus 

. . . the first 

That ever burst 

Into that unknown sea. 

19 (289) 



290 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



By birth and education Florence Nightingale was 
fitted for a very different sphere of life than that which 
she chose for herself. Her father was a man of means, 
a landed proprietor and clearly a gentleman of culti- 
vation. Her birth occurred in the historic Tuscan city 
of Florence — hence her baptismal name. From her 
earliest days she showed an interest in the affairs of 
the sick room — practicing bandaging on her dolls and 
performing a cure upon a shepherd dog whose master 
thought him to have a broken leg. As she grew older 
she traveled widely with her parents and wherever she 
went studied hospitals, reformatories and all places 
given over to the care of the suffering and unfortunate. 
History does not relate whether in this passion she 
had the sympathy of her parents, but to some extent 
it must have been forthcoming, for she was plenti- 
fully supplied with funds for the prosecution of her 
studies and even for the assistance of some of the insti- 
tutions which she approved. 

It seems odd to-day to hear that in the early days 
of the nineteenth century there was in all Europe only 
one institution for the training of nurses other than 
those supported by the Catholic orders. This was at 
Kaiserwerth, on the Rhine, a school of deaconesses. 
Miss Nightingale, who had visited many of the Cath- 
olic schools and had become deeply impressed with the 
nobility of the work they were prosecuting, determined 
to enter this solitary Protestant school and use her 
influence to extend the scope of its work. 

Before this time she had been presented at court 
and had been given every possible introduction to Lon- 
don society. Nothing but devotion to a cause could 



FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE 291 

have prevented her from taking the place in the social 
whirl which was hers. 

In this brief sketch it is enough to say that Florence 
Nightingale perfected herself in the art of nursing and 
also in the more serious business of organizing and build- 
ing hospitals. About that time came on the Crimean 
war. One day in the London Times appeared a 
despatch from W. H. Russell, its most distinguished 
correspondent, telling of the sufferings of the wounded. 
As a matter of fact, the situation was hardly worse 
than that of our own soldiers in the Spanish war, 
whether at Siboney or Chattanooga. When we recall 
the number of lives lost by typhoid fever at Chatta- 
nooga in this day of sanitation we must look with 
admiration upon the record made by Miss Nightingale 
in reducing the deaths in the Crimea from sixty in the 
hundred to little more than one. 

The graphic despatch from Russell which stirred 
her to undertake this work deserves mention. Had 
it not been for the work of this brilliant journalist 
either Florence Nightingale would not have under- 
taken the task which made her famous, or, for that 
matter would the money necessary to her work have 
been contributed by the British people. 

Immediately upon reading this vigorous appeal the 
heart of the English people was stirred. Subscrip- 
tions in aid of the soldiers at the front were opened 
and in two weeks those sent to one newspaper alone 
exceeded $75,000. The contributions of blankets, 
flannels and clothing of all sorts fairly overcrowded 
the receiving depots. But who should handle this 
fund, who distribute these supplies was a matter to be 



292 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

determined. Miss Nightingale's reputation had become 
established in England, so that when greatly distressed 
by the news from the Crimea she wrote offering her 
services to the government, her letter crossed one from 
the secretary of war, begging her to undertake that 
very service. It was the first time the British govern- 
ment had ever called upon a woman to undertake so 
important a duty. Of course there were criticism and 
doubt, but both were stilled by her complete success. 

For success was won by Miss Nightingale from the 
very first day of her arrival at the front, whither she 
went with thirty-four nurses. She found men dying of 
typhoid and dysentery, lying on filthy mattresses in 
dismal hovels. Soon she had them on clean and com- 
fortable beds in cheerful hospital wards. Hers was the 
genius of organization. She could not herself, of 
course, give personal attention to a tithe of the suffer- 
ers, but she saw that the attention they did get was not 
perfunctory, and she herself was in evidence most of 
the time. Twenty hours a day was no unusual stretch 
of work for her. Though she herself was seized with 
the fever that she fought for her patients, she refused 
to give up her work and prosecuted it until the end of 
the war. To the men she was a true angel of light. 
"We call her 'the angel/ " one wrote in a letter home. 
"Could bad men be bad in the presence of an 'angel'?" 
And another not quite so refined in expression, wrote, 
"Before she came there was such cussin' and swear- 
ing as you never heard; but after she came it was as 
holy as a church." 

Swiftly the fame of this savior of the soldiers spread. 
Those who had scoffed at her despatch to the seat of 



FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE 293 

war, because of her frail health, became the loudest 
in her praise. The war having ended, the British gov- 
ernment sent a man-of-war to bring her home, and 
planned a triumphant reception for her, but she, being 
ever averse to ceremonial affairs, evaded this national 
courtesy by returning to England on a French ship and 
proceeding directly to her home. But even so, she could 
not escape the ovations of a grateful people, though her 
shattered health enabled her to beg off from public 
appearances. 

Queen Victoria summoned her to Balmoral and there 
presented her with a ruby red enamel cross on a white 
ground, which may have been the origin of our own 
Red Cross emblem. The Sultan of Turkey sent a rich 
bracelet. From most of the nations of Europe came 
some evidence of gratitude and esteem. Officially 
Great Britain gave her $250,000, which she at once 
used to found a training school for nurses at St. Thomas 7 
Hospital. 

Naturally the noble service of Miss Nightingale 
found admirers in our own country and she was offi- 
cially consulted in our civil war. Although the experi- 
ences of those terrible months in the Crimea perma- 
nently affected Miss Nightingale's health, and she was 
forced to lead a more or less quiet life thereafter, she 
lived to the ripe old age of ninety, dying in London 
in August, 1910. 



CLARA BARTON 

(1821-1912) 
THE AMERICAN FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE 

IT was the fate of this really great woman, after a 
lifetime spent among the (i moving accidents by 
flood and field/ 7 to come upon evil days in the time 
of her old age. Clara Barton's retirement from 
the presidency of the American Red Cross Society, 
the disputes and the recriminations that attended it 
are still matters of too recent occurrence to be regarded 
in the calm light of history. She had her savage detrac- 
tors and her impassioned defenders, but her death in 
1912, following swiftly upon her practical deposition 
from office, silenced the one and only added to the 
loyalty of the others. The story of Miss Barton's 
life of activity and helpfulness is long enough and 
stimulating enough. It would be futile here to try to 
clear the turbid waters in which her sun set. 

Miss Barton did not find her vocation early in life. 
She was forty years old before the Civil War broke out, 
the Massachusetts troops were fired on in Baltimore 
and she volunteered to go to the scene and nurse the 
wounded. Her earlier life had been spent as a school 
teacherand asa clerk in the PatentOffice at Washington. 
In the former vocation she won some local repute by 
fitting up through her own efforts the first public school 

(294) 



CLARA BARTON 295 



in Bordentown, N. J. She commenced with six boys, 
in a building that had been deserted, teaching at her 
own expense; she ended the year with 600 and a school 
building erected at public cost. The townspeople who 
thought there was no demand or need for a public 
school were shown their error. From Bordentown she 
went to Washington and spent three miserable years 
in the Patent Office. Women clerks were little seen 
and less desired, the men doing all they could to drive 
them out of the service. 

The Civil War created a new Clara Barton; the 
New Jersey school teacher, the plodding compiler and 
copyist of patent office records, became a national 
character, a figure well known in the camp hospitals 
and on the battlefields. Shortly before the battle 
of Bull Run her brother, who was engaged in business 
within the Confederate lines, was captured by the 
Federals. Miss Barton determined to go to his aid, 
but thinking that a visit to the front might be made 
useful to others, put a small notice in a Worcester, Mass., 
paper saying that she would carry any stores or money 
that the folks at home might want to send to wounded 
soldiers. The reply was so generous that she presently 
had a building at Pennsylvania Avenue and Seventeenth 
Street, Washington, filled with goods she had promised 
to deliver to the soldiers at the front. How to fulfil 
her promise was the problem and it remained her prob- 
lem until the end of the war, for from that day Clara 
Barton was the recognized agent of communication 
between home folks and the boys in the trenches. 
There were, it was true, the United States Sanitary 
Commission and various state commissions engaged 



296 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



in the same errand of mercy, but Miss Barton's work 
was individual, personal and seemed especially to touch 
the hearts of the people. This, of course, was all before 
the days of the Red Cross. 

To tell the story of her activities during the war 
would fill a book. She was present at such savage 
battles as Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg 
and the Wilderness. Though she held no commission 
and represented nobody, she was recognized by the 
government, and men, teams and a safe conduct 
everywhere were supplied to her. She herself seems 
to put the first value, however, on her work in the identi- 
fication of the dead, listed as missing, and in marking 
their burial places. 

While all human foresight had been employed during 
the war to secure the names of the dead and to discover 
the missing, it was inevitable that in so colossal a 
conflict, and at a time of such excitement and disorder 
all systems would fail. At the close of the war letters 
poured in upon the authorities from people begging 
for intelligence of husbands, sons or fathers. The more 
merciful affliction had fallen upon those who knew that 
their loved ones were dead— the curt report "missing" 
carried with it the possibility of such a multiplicity of 
woes. 

Learning that nearly 80,000 such letters of inquiry 
had been received, Miss Barton went personally to 
President Lincoln and asked that she be designated to 
receive and answer them. An order to that effect 
was promptly promulgated and a bureau organized. 
Even after its accomplishment this task seems one to 
baffle the most painstaking and keen searchers. Men 



CLARA BARTON 297 

had fallen in battles like that of the Wilderness and 
their bodies were consumed in the fires that swept 
away the underbrush. They had been shot down cross- 
ing streams, only to be swept away by the torrent. 
They had perished miserably in the prisons or hospitals 
of the enemy, where records were but carelessly kept, 
or were destroyed when the Confederates fled before 
the advancing Union armies. Fortune sometimes 
favored the searchers. Such was the case with the 
Atwater records of Andersonville. 

Dorance Atwater was a New England soldier who 
was confined in the great Confederate prison at Ander- 
sonville. He had been detailed there by the prison 
authorities, to keep the record of the deaths and burials. 
Foreseeing that these records might be destroyed and 
feeling sure that there would be a demand in the North 
for them, he began with secrecy and ingenuity to copy 
all the lists he prepared. He was hard put to it to 
secure paper and would sometimes mark down the day's 
list of deaths on a rag, but in 1865 he was freed with a 
fairly complete list in his possession. This the War 
Department with incredible stupidity pigeonholed, 
while giving the compiler a government job as a reward 
for his industry. When Miss Barton's mission was 
announced he informed her of the information ready 
to hand. She secured it and with the necessary assist- 
ants hastened to Andersonville. Here the graves were 
marked with head-boards and the full list of dead 
compiled. To Miss Barton fell the honor of first 
raising the United States flag over the government 
cemetery at Andersonville. 

After a profitable year on the lecture platform she 



298 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



went abroad in 1869 to rest. The nature of her rest 
was to nurse the wounded in the Franco-Prussian War, 
and do it with such devotion that from queens and 
governments she received gifts of jewels and decora- 
tions. Queen Victoria decorated her with her own 
hands. 

Returning to the United States, she worked to per- 
suade this country to join in the treaties creating the 
International Red Cross Society. For a long time her 
efforts were unavailing. Some congressmen said we 
would have no more wars, so what was the use? Others 
urged that such a treaty would constitute one of those 
entangling alliances against which Washington warned 
us. At last, however, with the aid of Garfield, she won 
and the United States joined in the most civilized of 
all international agreements. 

The list of foreign honors and decorations bestowed 
upon her would fill a page. But toward the end of her 
long life her position was less certain at home. There 
was serious revolt in the Red Cross against her con- 
tinued domination, and her last years were embittered 
by the hostility of some who had been her associates 
and whom she thought her friends. Perhaps, like 
others who have created a great organization, she clung 
too long to its control. Her advancing years afforded 
not merely an excuse, but a peremptory reason for her 
retirement. But the hardest lesson for any devotee 
to learn is when to stop. Time will inevitably expunge 
the petty dissensions and the little weaknesses that at- 
tended Miss Barton's last days and leave her character 
standing forth as that of one of the truly great women 
of her century. 



FRANCES E. WILLARD 

(1839-1898) 
THE EFFECTIVE FOE OF INTEMPERANCE 

IN the statuary hall of the House of Representatives 
at Washington, termed by some the Chamber of 
Horrors because of the admittedly inferior quality 
of the statues, there stands the marble effigy of 
but one woman — Frances E. Willard, long the domi- 
nating force of the Woman's Christian Temperance 
Union. The method by which these statues are 
selected gives special importance to each. Space for 
the installation of two statues is assigned to each state. 
Most have utilized it to secure immortality for mili- 
tary heroes, a few have put forward their citizens who 
in civil life fought for good government and the rights 
of the people; Illinois alone presents the statue of a 
woman who fought for good government and right liv- 
ing and was ever the foe of corruption, whether social 
or political. 

Frances E. Willard, before her death, made the tem- 
perance movement practical, and incidentally she 
made of what was then the little town of Evanston, 
just outside of Chicago, a Mecca for all who believed 
in practical social reform. Born in 1839, her life's 
span extended to 1898, not a long one, but filled with 
useful service. 

(299) 



300 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Her early days were marked by that simplicity and 
intellectual environment that seldom come to the child 
of to-day. After her birth her parents, who were edu- 
cated people of English lineage, moved to Oberlin, 
Ohio, and enrolled themselves in that college which 
has perhaps been the greatest force for real progress 
of any educational institution in the United States. 
Too young to profit directly by the college teachings, 
the child profited indirectly. About this time the 
father, restless by nature, purchased three prairie 
schooners and moved westward. Chicago was exam- 
ined and dismissed as hopeless, and the family passed 
on to Janesville, Wis., where the girl was given the 
education in English poetry, prose and history gathered 
up by the parents in their four years at Oberlin. At 
seventeen Frances went to Milwaukee Female College, 
and later completed her education at the Northwestern 
Female College at Evanston, 111. 

At the age of twenty-one she became a school 
teacher, that occupation which has been the stepping 
stone to so many lofty careers in the United States. 
From public schools to the presidency of the Woman's 
College at Evanston her way was marked by repeated 
successes. But it was not until she was thirty-five 
years old that she found her real life work. Then, 
under the influence of Neal Dow, Mary A. Livermore 
and Lillian M. N. Stevens, she took up the fight upon 
liquor. The National Union was the original name of 
the organization which later became the Woman's 
Christian Temperance Union and in the service of 
which Miss Willard ended her life. 

Doubtless Neal Dow and Mrs. Livermore influenced 



FRANCES E. WILLARD 301 



her much, but from her earliest days she had been taught 
to hate all alcohol. In the family Bible appeared this 
pledge in doggerel signed by father, mother and the 
three children : 

A pledge we make no wine to take, 
Nor brandy red that turns the head, 
Nor fiery rum that ruins home, 
Nor whiskey hot that makes the sot, 
Nor brewer's beer, for that we fear, 
And cider, too, will never do — 
To quench our thirst we'll always bring 
Cold water from the well or spring; 
So here we pledge perpetual hate 
To all that can intoxicate. 

The organization built up by Miss Willard became 
the most powerful engine for temperance in the world. 
At the present moment it has more than 12,000 local 
unions, with a membership of over half a million. 
Mainly devoted to pressing the cause of temperance, 
Miss Willard swung it into political lines, encounter- 
ing some serious criticism because of her declaration 
that votes for women would be the greatest aid possi- 
ble to the enforcement of anti-liquor laws. Moreover, 
at the time of the Armenian atrocities Miss Willard, 
then being in Europe visiting her devoted friend, Lady 
Henry Somerset, hurried to Marseilles, France, and did 
much to alleviate the sufferings of the refugees there. 
In all works of good she was pre-eminent. 
r Frances Willard was nothing if not practical. No 
one hated the liquor traffic more than she, but none 
recognized more clearly that to some extent social con- 
ditions, notably poverty and dread for the morrow, 
had much to do with keeping it alive and prosperous. 



302 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

She confessed herself unable to determine dogmatically 
whether poverty created drunkenness or drunkenness 
poverty. 

Her public addresses exceeded in number those of 
any public speaker unless perhaps John B. Gough, 
Moody or Henry Ward Beecher. Between 1878 and 
her death she addressed audiences in every town of 
10,000 inhabitants or more, covering all the states and 
many foreign countries. 

So l?usy a brain in a frail body could but burn itself 
out. Broken down nervously and physically, she 
planned to go to Europe in 1898. Her journey reached 
only as far as New York, where, on February 17th of 
that year, the last summons came. With the words, 
"How beautiful it is to be with God," she passed away. 



ANNE HUTCHINSON 

(1591-1643) 
AN EARLY DEFENDER OF FREE SPEECH 

THE story of Anne Hutchinson is difficult of 
understanding by our generation. We take 
our religion more lightly — but perhaps not 
less reverently and lovingly — than the gaunt 
and stern Puritans who came from England to the 
Massachusetts Bay Colony in order that they might 
have liberty to worship God as they thought fit and 
power to deny like liberty to everybody else. Anne 
Hutchinson's revolt was not against the accepted creed. 
She was as much a Puritan as Roger Wolcott, the 
governor who exiled her, or John Cotton, the minister 
who excommunicated her. But she was a type of 
woman becoming constantly more plentiful. She 
wanted to bear an equal share with men in the great 
affairs of the moment, and it happened that at that 
moment the great affair was splitting theological 
hairs, even though the neighboring Indians were 
employing the rougher argument of the tomahawk to 
split the Puritan head. In its essentials, however, 
the fight of Anne Hutchinson against the Puritan 
theocracy was a fight for freedom of thought and of 
speech. 
* In 1634 Boston might fairly be described as a meeting 

(303) 



304 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

house surrounded by a rough sea of theological con- 
troversy. There were not many people in the infant 
settlement, but all who were there were theologians. 
Indeed, the very name of the village commemorated 
an ecclesiastical quarrel, for Master John Cotton, the 
assistant pastor of the colony had suffered sore perse- 
cution in his native town of Boston in Lincolnshire 
at the hands of Archbishop Laud. The colonists who 
had crossed with John Winthrop in the Mayflower 
wanted the stout Puritan divine with them, and per- 
haps to attract him, named their settlement after his 
mother town. He crossed the ocean in 1633 and though 
the chief pastorate of the New England church was 
already filled by the Rev. John Wilson, Cotton became 
his associate with the title of "the teacher," and such 
was his intellectual despotism he became "the unmitred 
pope of a pope-hating commonwealth," and ruled as an 
autocrat for nineteen years. 

To this new Boston came in the ship Griffin in 
1634 a woman of forty-three, Anne Hutchinson with 
her husband William. She was as ardent a doctrinal 
disputant as puritanism could produce, and unluckily 
for her later comfort, whiled away hours of the tedious 
voyage by expounding her beliefs to the Rev. Zechariah 
Symmes. This reverend gentleman seems to have been 
as harsh and narrow as his name, for his first act on 
landing was to denounce Mrs. Hutchinson as a 
"prophetess" — seemingly a dire accusation — and out of 
his malice, which he probably referred to as his devo- 
tion to the Lord, he warned the governor and the deputy 
against her eccentricities of belief. As a result there 
was some delay in her admission to church membership, 
which vexed her pious soul. 



ANNE HUTCHINSON 305 

In reading of the Boston of that day one wonders 
how the inhabitants found time amidst their theological 
discussions to plant maize, catch codfish and repel the 
Indian forays. The Sunday religious services occupied 
from three to five hours in one protracted service. 
Much of the merit of a preacher was judged from the 
number of trips the sexton had to make to the pulpit 
to turn the hour glass whose fleeting sands measured the 
verbosity of the exhorter. But this was not enough. 
In the middle of the week were held meetings, from 
which women were excluded, to review and discuss the 
sermons and criticize the doctrines expounded. 

That exclusion of women roused Anne Hutchinson's 
wrath. A true forerunner of the nineteenth century 
women who threw open the colleges and the professions 
to their sex, she revolted and established her own 
weekly meetings which speedily became popular. 
In conducting them, however, she manifested two 
weaknesses which the ungallant would describe as 
feminine — she did most of the talking herself, and she 
held her friends in the pulpit, among whom where John 
Cotton and her brother-in-law Joseph Wheelwright, 
immune from the criticisms she lavishly heaped upon 
the other clergymen. 

The latter being but human, resented this discrimi- 
nation, With her arch-enemy Rev. Zechariah Symmes 
in the lead, the outraged clergy moved on their enemy 
and also on the beneficiaries of her fatal favor. Brother- 
in-law Wheelwright was first censured and then ban- 
ished. Some members of the church who protested 
against this action were deprived of their arms and 
ammunition, being thus exposed helpless to the red 



306 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

men, while others were banished. John Cotton was 
subjected to mortifying inquisitions and only saved 
himself by explanations and apologies that put him 
outside the Hutchinson party. 

The authoress of all this turmoil was finally put on 
trial before the General Court of Massachusetts. On 
the bench sat Governor Winthrop, grave, strong and 
courteous, prepared to listen to a case on which his mind 
was already determined. There too was John Endicott, 
who, as Hawthorne wrote, " would stand with his 
drawn sword at the gate of heaven and resist to the 
death all pilgrims thither except they traveled his own 
path." Others of the judges bore names honored in 
Boston to-day, but all were equally determined to 
convict the woman who, without counsel or support- 
ing friends, confronted that bench filled with the ablest 
minds of the colony. 

Of course she was convicted, and sentence of ban- 
ishment was pronounced upon her. "I desire to 
know wherefore I am banished?" said she, sturdily 
facing the court. With lofty superciliousness Winthrop 
replied, "Woman, say no more; the court knows 
wherefore and is satisfied." 

If the court did know, its reasons have ever been 
unintelligible to later generations. It is enough to say 
that the most autocratic of tyrants, the Puritan minis- 
ter of colonial Massachusetts, had felt his autocracy 
menaced by the progress of thought among his parish- 
ioners, and therefore struck and struck hard. After 
going on a few weeks later to admonish Mrs. Hutchin- 
son for heresy, the ministers sought to turn her husband 
against her. His response bespoke the true man. 



ANNE HUTCHINSON 307 

He was, so he declared, "more nearly tied to his wife 
than to the church, and he thought her to be a dear 
saint and servant of God." 

Hand in hand the twain went into banishment. 
For a time they settled at Aquidneck, in Rhode Island, 
where Roger Williams had established religious free- 
dom. There Mr. Hutchinson died and his widow 
unhappily determined to move to the Dutch colony, 
the New Netherlands. With her children she settled 
at what is now New Rochelle, a suburb, almost a part 
of Greater New York, but then a settlement of sixteen 
souls in a dense wilderness. The Indians soon after 
took the warpath, raided the village and Anne Hutch- 
inson and all her children save one perished in their 
blazing cottage. 

When the tidings reached Boston, brought thither 
by Anne Hutchinson's eight-year-old daughter whom 
the Dutch sent back, the cold and barbarous clergy 
fairly rejoiced over it as proof positive of her guilt. 
"The Lord," said Welde, one of her reverend perse- 
cutors, "heard our groans to Heaven and freed us from 
our great and sore affliction." However, the cause of 
clerical tyranny for which Welde fought is dead, while 
the cause of freedom of worship and of thought for 
which Anne Hutchinson died lives triumphant. 



LUCRETIA MOTT 

(1793-1880) 
A QUAKER PREACHER OF FREEDOM'S TRUTHS 

LUCRETIA MOTT was a Quaker by birth, by 
marriage and by life-long affiliation with that 
^ church. She was also one of the gentlest of 
womankind. Her habit was quiet drab or 
gray, her voice subdued, her manner self-effacing. All 
the same, her life was one long battle against the forces 
of slavery first, then for the advancement of women, 
then against the liquor power. She stood unafraid 
before raging mobs, and held a meeting direct to its 
duty though windows were smashing and missiles 
hurtling in the air. Her faith and creed were justi- 
fied, for she never sustained bodily harm while her 
influence in furthering the causes she upheld was more 
effective than that of some who believed in fighting 
violence with violence. 

She was born in 1793, the same year that Madame 
Roland died on the scaffold in the name of liberty. 
After her marriage to James Mott, a cousin, her home 
was in Philadelphia, a city which still remembers her 
as one of its illustrious dead. The war of 1812 brought 
depression in trade and a measure of poverty to the 
young couple, but poverty in early life is readily borne 
and is no bad stimulant. Lucretia for a time practi- 

(308) 




LUCKET1A MOTT 



LUCRETIA MOTT 309 

cally supported the family by teaching, but, as the 
need passed, gave it up and began the study of theology 
and the Scriptures. 

In 1818 at the age of twenty-five she was ordained 
a preacher in the Society of Friends. In this capacity 
she traveled much in New England and some of the 
Southern states. It was no part of her duty to preach 
against slavery and intemperance, but on these subjects 
she could not keep silence. While in the main the 
sympathy of her church was with her in her endeavors, 
there was some opposition to her "lugging in" the sub- 
ject of slavery in sermons supposed to preach the moral 
code and expound the religious dogmas of the Society 
of Friends. In those days the traveling preacher took 
from one meeting to another a "minute" or letter of 
introduction, and at one time there was serious discus- 
sion of depriving Mrs. Mott of this document. 

About this time arose the schism in the Society 
which led to the breaking away of the faction called 
the Hicksites. Elias Hicks, whose preaching caused 
the division, was a powerful advocate of abolition, and 
in general advocated the discussion of moral issues 
rather than theological dogmas. Naturally Mrs. 
Mott went with his party. Never for a moment did 
she waver in her adhesion to the Quaker creed, but she 
put the war upon slavery first in her list of personal 
duties. As she herself expressed it: 

"The millions of downtrodden slaves in our land 
being the greatest sufferers, the most oppressed class, 
I felt bound to plead their cause in season and out of 
season, to endeavor to put myself in their souls' stead 
and to aid all in my power, in every right effort for their 
immediate emancipation." 



310 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



It was not mere lip service that the Motts— James 
and Lucretia — gave to the cause of anti-slavery. 
They proved their words by their deeds. After their 
early experiences with poverty the husband had finally 
built up a profitable business in the domestic commis- 
sion trade, which included, unhappily, cotton goods 
which were the product of slave labor. The advanced 
abolitionists pledged themselves to " touch not, taste 
not, handle not" anything made by the enforced labor 
of the slave, but James Mott could not conduct his 
business without handling cottons. It was a struggle 
such as any self-supporting man will appreciate, but 
in the end he gave up his profitable trade and embarked 
anew in the wool commission business. It is a comfort 
to know that in this, after initial reverses, he made a 
competency. Following the dictates of conscience is 
seldom, in the long run, costly. 

This abstinence from all things tainted with slavery 
was embarrassing to the housekeeper, and probably 
the rule was innocently broken many times. Even 
to-day it would be difficult to find coffee not picked by 
the hands of slaves. In the days of Lucretia Mott's 
activities sugar was the chief perplexity, for beet 
sugar was practically unknown. Nearly all tropical 
products were "taboo/ 5 and we find James Mott 
thanking his father for a keg of rice which, he says, 
he "will relish better than that which is stained with 
blood." The fervor of the abolitionists led to the found- 
ing of so-called "free stores," but their wares, though 
untainted, must have been sometimes unsatisfactory. 
For example, a lot of motto candies, bought for a chil- 
dren's party, and supposed to have delightfully silly 



LUCRETIA MOTT 311 

and sentimental verses under their parti-colored wrap- 
pers, emitted, when opened, such virtuous counsels as 
this: 

If slavery came by color, which God gave, 
Fashion may change and you become the slave. 

Quaker as she was, Lucretia Mott braved violence 
in her chosen work. In 1838 Pennsylvania Hall in 
Philadelphia, which had been dedicated to "Liberty 
and the Rights of Man," was burned by a mob a few 
hours after the Anti-Slavery Convention of American 
Women had ended its sittings in it. While the meeting 
was in session the mob packed the surrounding streets 
and smashed the windows, hooting and yelling threats. 
Later the mob marched toward the Motts' house with 
the intention of burning it. The family were prepared 
for the invasion, and having sent some clothing and 
furniture to a neighbor's, sat serenely in the parlor 
awaiting fate. But the rioters were diverted from their 
course by a young man, who, mixing with the leaders 
and crying, "Follow me to the Motts!" led them off 
by the wrong streets and in confusion they disbanded. 
Many similar instances of almost providential escape 
from danger were related by her. 

It was Mrs. Mott's good fortune to live to witness 
the complete triumph of her greatest cause. Some 
humor attended the victory. The simple-minded 
blacks knew her for a benefactor and were disinclined 
to limit her benefactions. They dubbed her "The 
Black Man's Goddess of Liberty," named colored 
babies galore after her and established to her horror 
and amusement an order called "The Rising Sons and 



312 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Daughters of Lucretia Mott." "Don't laugh too 
much," she said to her secretary. "The poor souls 
meant well." But probably even her kindliness must 
have been sorely strained by an individual who urged 
her to support with influence and money an invention 
"to take the kink out of the hair of the negro," on the 
ground that it would do more than any educational 
or political advantage to further his independence. 

With the cause of anti-slavery triumphant, Mrs. 
Mott turned to labor in the cause of the advancement 
of women — though indeed she had pleaded both causes 
at once. She was at one with such leaders as Lucy 
Stone, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stan- 
ton. Into the story of her activities in this line it is 
impossible to enter now. It was the autumn of her 
life but her zeal was like the new life of spring. 

Mrs. Mott died November 11, 1880, and was laid 
away in the Friends' Burying ground at Fair Hill, 
near Philadelphia. Reverent thousands gathered at 
the place of interment. Save for a few words by Rev. 
Henry T. Child, all was conducted in profound silence. 
But from those standing at the open grave there arose 
suddenly a voice saying, "Will no one say anything?" 
And another made reply, "Who can speak? The 
preacher is dead." 



MARY BAKER EDDY 

(1821-1910) 
THE FOUNDER OF A NEW FAITH 

THE fierce tumult of religious controversy 
resounds so thunderously about the fabric 
that Mary Baker Eddy raised in the name of 
Christian Science that it is obviously not yet 
the time to estimate finally the worth of her contribu- 
tion to the world's thought and the world's religion. 
It is not, however, too soon to note the tremendous 
material proportions of the edifice that has risen upon 
her foundation, and to indicate all too incompletely 
something of its spiritual effect upon the minds and 
lives of men. 

It is fair to date the life of the Christian Science 
cult from the first publication of the text book "Science 
and Health" in 1875. Prior to this time Mrs. Eddy 
had indeed preached her doctrines, instructed a few 
students and demonstrated the faith that was within 
her by healing a few invalids. When the text book 
was published " Science" had one refuge, a little two- 
story house in Lynn, Mass., with a sign over the door, 
" Christian Science Home." To-day its churches are 
scattered all over the world. There are 1,306 " Churches 
of Christ, Scientist," all branches of the stately mother 
church at Boston which is one of that city's chief 

(313) 



314 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

architectural monuments. The ministers, or as they 
are termed in the church, "readers/ 7 number 2,612. 
The communicants regularly enrolled exceed 85,000 
and the total number of attendants upon the services 
exceed 1,500,000. The great disproportion between 
the size of the congregations and the number of com- 
municants is due to the fact that church membership 
involves certain preliminaries in the way of study 
which all are not willing to undertake. In the United 
States, at least, these congregations in hundreds of 
instances meet in handsome church edifices of a uni- 
form style of architecture, and all under the discipline 
of the central or mother church. South Africa, China, 
New South Wales and all the countries of Europe 
appear in the list. 

If we set aside the effect of Mrs. Eddy's teachings 
upon the spiritual sense of man, the creation and per- 
fection of this wonderful church organization in one 
lifetime is sufficient to bring fame to its creator. 

Mary Baker was born in Bow, N. H., July 16, 1821. 
Her family was of the familiar New England type, of 
revolutionary ancestry, neither rich nor poor, intellect- 
ually alert and joining in the chief mental diversion of 
the day, namely, theological discussion. Her early 
education was better than that of the average girl of 
the time, her brother, Hon. Albert Baker, representa- 
tive in Congress from New Hampshire, giving much 
attention to guiding her school-girl endeavors in the 
classic tongues. In her later years the fierce detractors 
of her creed attacked her family and her education, 
saying that her people were adventurers and she her- 
self illiterate. Yet after the death of her first husband, 



MARY BAKER EDDY 315 

Col. George W. Glover, of North Carolina, she earned 
for a time her livelihood by writing. If portions of 
her book, " Science and Health/' seem difficult reading 
it must be remembered that metaphysics was never 
light literature, and that the most difficult of all lit- 
erary tasks is for the speculator in that field to remem- 
ber that his readers' minds do not easily follow his 
own mental processes. 

According to Mrs. Eddy's own story her conception 
of Christian Science sprung from her having healed, 
without premonition of her power, a little child of 
threatened blindness. Herself ill, she had been study- 
ing the Scriptures, experimenting with spiritualism, 
dallying with mesmerism and in a vague way striving 
to find some mental or spiritual cure for disease. That 
such a cure existed she was sure, but how to find it? 
It was at this period of her life that she came into 
contact with some of the curious characters — mesmer- 
ists, spiritualists and other seekers after the occult — 
whose names were used in later days to bring a measure 
of discredit upon hers. But all these schools she dis- 
carded after testing them. She says that it was after 
three years of uninterrupted study of the Scriptures 
and reflection thereupon that she formulated the answer 
to the problem of life and called it Christian Science. 

The nature of that answer and the creed developed 
from it cannot be more than indicated here. Perhaps 
a fair, brief and dispassionate statement of Mrs. Eddy's 
position is this one, formulated by a brilliant journalist, 
not himself a believer in Christian Science : 

" In substance Mrs. Eddy's doctrines merely take literally this 
verse from the fourteenth chapter of John: 



316 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

" 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me the 
works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall 
he do; because I go unto my Father/ John XIV, 12. 

"It is difficult to see why taking literally a statement which this 
nation as a whole endorses should be construed into a hallucination." 

The rapid progress of the form of worship preached 
by Mrs. Eddy awakened bitter clerical antagonism. 
The established churches everywhere antagonized it, 
though for what reason it is difficult to understand, 
as it is based wholly on the teachings of the Bible. 

Mrs. Eddy's books, and other publications of the 
church brought in a great revenue, and many well- 
meaning people were much distressed lest this revenue 
be misapplied. Her son, in her old age, sought to have 
her set aside as incompetent and have her estate admin- 
istered by trustees, but his chief attorneys, after exam- 
ining into her methods of handling her property and 
her provisions for its future disposition, withdrew from 
a hopeless case. In the end, after providing hand- 
somely for the son who had long been estranged from 
her, she left the great bulk of her property to the 
church. 

Mrs. Eddy's last years did much to demonstrate 
the power of her faith which inculcates calmness and 
good cheer under all distressing circumstances. Never 
was a woman of more than eighty so harried. News- 
papers and magazines were filled with savage denun- 
ciations of her preachments, some of the most eminent 
men joining in the chorus of invective. 

Through all she was calm, steadfast in her faith, 
seeing her friends and communicating with those for 
whom she cared. Death came to her in her home in 



MARY BAKER EDDY 317 

Boston in 1910 and it is safe to say that no woman 
of her century left more sincere mourners. Creeds 
and faiths, it is true, are for eternity, but even for them 
the test of time is valid. To this test we may leave 
Mrs. Eddy's doctrine of Christian Science, but reser- 
vation of judgment in this does not preclude admira- 
tion for the genius and devotion of the woman who 
built up so magnificent a religious structure from so 
slight a beginning and in so brief a time. 



HARRIET MARTINEAU 

(1802-1876) 
THE WRITER OF POLITICAL ROMANCE 

IN the United States to-day there is probably not 
an editor, not a publisher, who would consider 
for a moment the publication of stories of the sort 
that made Harriet Martineau famous, lifted her 
from abject poverty to wealth and made her the most 
discussed English woman of letters of her century. 
And if editor or publisher were found with a sufficient 
devotion to the public weal to publish a little book of 
profitable tales about political economy it may well be 
doubted whether an eager public would clamor for it 
to the extent of editions of 30,000. Just imagine as a 
parallel Booth Tarkington giving us a "best seller" 
based on the horrors of Schedule K, or George 
Randolph Chester turning aside from "Wallingford" 
and "Blackie" to weave romance about the confidence 
game perpetrated when the " Dutch Standard" was 
interpolated in the sugar schedule. 

Harriet Martineau was born to poverty and ill health, 
and achieved fame despite her handicaps. She was 
plain, undersized, short-sighted and so deaf that an 
ear trumpet was necessary. She early began to dream 
of writing for the press, and first won the joy of being 
"in type" in an article for the Monthly Repository* 

(318) 




HARRIET MARTINEAU 



HARRIET MARTINEAU 319 



Neither article nor paper was of much importance, but 
it happened to delight her brother Thomas, who, all 
ignorant of the authorship, read it aloud with the 
remark, "They have had nothing so good as this for a 
long tine." When she confessed its origin he said 
gravely, hand on her shoulder: "Now, dear, leave it 
to other women to make shirts and darn stockings; 
and do you devote yourself to this. " "That evening," 
she said later, "made me an authoress." It made her 
rather a journalist, for she was best at the timely 
article, the story with a purpose, the leader (or what in 
the United States we call editorials). Of the latter 
she boasts in her autobiography of having written 
1,600 for the London Daily News at the rate of six a 
week — a very moderate schedule it would be thought 
in an American newspaper office. 
( Her first slight measure of success came when a 
Unitarian association offered three prizes for three 
essays intended to convert Catholics, Jews and Moham- 
medans. Harriet tried for and won all three prizes — 
a total of 45 guineas (about $225). How many of the 
faithless were converted is not recorded, but success 
put new heart into the author, who redoubled her 
efforts. 

It was a day of economic and political storm and 
stress in England. The agitation of the reform bill 
was on, and the repeal of the corn laws was looming 
on the horizon. Miss Martineau diverted her talents 
from theology to political economy. Her project was 
to teach the truths of property, taxes, wealth, finance 
and all that pertains to good government under cover 
of entertaining tales. In brief, she planned the Rollo 
Books of political economy. 



320 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

v With two stories completed, she went to London to 
seek a publisher. With one accord all bowed her out. 
In the end she found a young and unknown bookseller 
ready to undertake the enterprise if she would supply 
the manuscript and save him from all danger of loss — 
not an unusual method among publishers of encouraging 
budding genius. The book became instantaneously suc- 
cessful. Her first letter from her publisher began 
coolly. A postscript, however, gave the glad tidings 
that an edition of 3,000 copies would be needed; a 
second postscript raised this to 4,000 and a third to 
5,000. The penalties of fame came to her. Members 
of Parliament so bombarded her with Blue Books and 
suggestions for other stories that her postmaster sent 
word that he would. not deliver her mail any longer, 
for it "could not be carried without a barrow." 

Shortly thereafter a society instituted for the publi- 
cation of what we would now call progressive literature, 
contracted with her for a number of books of from 
120 to 150 pages each, to be furnished once a month. 
Some of the subjects of these books seem enough to 
baffle any novelist. One wove fiction around bills of 
exchange with the scene laid in Holland. Another, 
called a "Guide to Service," impressed its readers 
with the conviction that Miss Martineau had indeed 
been a London "slavey." One dealt with over popu- 
lation and might be reprinted now as an antidote to 
Col. Roosevelt's attacks on race suicide. But her tri- 
umphs wer$ not without reverses. Her three volumes 
of "Forest and Game Laws" did not sell well, for the 
British public, devoted to first preserving and then 
killing animals, did not relish her sharp criticism of 



HARRIET MARTINEAU 321 

the laws that sent a boy into penal servitude for snar- 
ing a hare. Some of her most ardent friends became 
her bitter enemies. The Czar at first ordered copies 
of her books for all the Russian schools, but had them 
gathered up and burnt when in "The Charmed Sea" 
she wrote of Polish exiles in Siberia. He ordered that 
she never be permitted to set foot on Russian terri- 
tory, in which he was imitated by Austria. These 
nations having assassinated the Polish nation, were a 
trifle sensitive on the subject. 

In 1834 she visited the United States. Few foreign 
visitors have ever looked about them to more purpose. 
She remained here two years, meeting the most dis- 
tinguished men of the age and writing books which 
were pronounced the best of the time except those of 
de Tocqueville. Her view of American manners did 
not coincide with that expressed later by Mrs. Trol- 
lope. "The manners of the Americans, " she wrote, 
"are the best I ever saw. . . . They have been 
called the most good-tempered people in the world; 
and I think they must be so." This kindly judgment 
was probably formulated before she saw that famous 
"mob of gentlemen" drag William Lloyd Garrison 
through the streets of Boston with a halter about his 
neck. That spectacle, however, had much to do with 
her hatred of slavery, against which she delivered effec- 
tive blows. 

Miss Martineau was a true crusader, a valiant 
fighter for freedom of trade, for freedom of the slave, 
for the freedom of women. Some of her writings on 
the last subject would well repay study in the present 
earnest discussion of the right of women to share in the 

21 



322 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

government. It seemed that no revolt against preju- 
dice or tyranny could be obscure enough to escape her 
notice. From London she looked over at Oberlin 
College trying to break down race and sex privilege, 
and wrote of it in an English review. Throughout 
the dark days of our Civil War her pen was with us, 
and her work in the London Daily News almost offset 
the malignant hostility of The Times. 

Born a Unitarian, her philosophy of life and death 
was purely material, not to say dismal. "I see every- 
thing in the universe go out and disappear/' she wrote 
less than a month before her death in 1876, "and I see 
no reason for supposing that it is not an actual and 
entire death, and for my part I have no objection to 
such an extinction. I well remember the passion with 
which W. E. Forster said to me, 'I had rather be 
damned than annihilated.' If he once felt five minutes 
of damnation, he would be thankful for extinction in 
preference," 




CHARLOTTE CUSHM^N 
From the painting hy Chappel 



CHARLOTTE CUSHMAN 

(1816-1876) 

America's most famous tragedienne 

IN the annals of the American stage the name of 
Charlotte Cushman stands unique and alone. 
We have produced our great tragedians — Forrest, 
Booth, Barrett, McCullough, to mention only 
those who are gone. We have welcomed royally the 
foreign tragediennes from Rachel to Bernhardt who 
have brought their art to us. But in Charlotte Cush- 
man alone among bygone tragediennes can the United 
States boast a feminine genius indigenous to our soil and 
challenging, for the elevation of its tragic expression, 
the admiration of the world. 

Born in Boston, Charlotte was not designed for the 
stage. Her parents were for a time in comfortable 
circumstances and not until she had entered upon her 
" teens" did there seem any likelihood that the girl 
would ever have to earn her living. Then disaster 
came upon the family. She had a promising contralto 
voice, which, after due cultivation, she employed in 
teaching, choir, concert and opera singing. But a sore 
blow fell upon her. When singing in opera in New 
Orleans her voice suddenly failed her — she had over- 
strained it in the upper register and her voice was gone. 
Often it happens that what we think irrevocable 

(323) 



324 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



disaster turns out a beneficent act of providence. 
"You ought to be an actress, not a singer," said Cald- 
well, the New Orleans theatrical manager, of whom 
she sought advice in this cruel hour. "If you will 
study a few dramatic parts I will get Mr. Barton, the 
tragedian of our theatre, to hear you and take an inter- 
est in you." So delighted was Barton by her trial 
performance that he immediately asked her to play 
Lady Macbeth at his forthcoming benefit. Though 
this part is known among actors as the most exacting 
and difficult that can fall to an actress, she accepted 
without hesitation. 

Miss Cushman made a hit at the benefit and played 
out the season in New Orleans, thus lightly and suc- 
cessfully turning from an operatic to a dramatic career. 
Returning to New York, she made an advantageous 
three-year contract with the manager of the Bowery 
Theatre, who had heard of her success in the Crescent 
City. Always generous, she brought her mother and 
several members of her family to New York to share 
her new prosperity. But just at that moment fate 
reached forth and clutched her by the throat. Illness 
cut her New York engagement to one week. Then as 
the company was about to go on tour the theatre 
burned down, bankrupting the manager and f destroy- 
ing all Miss Cushman's costumes. In debt for the 
costumes, with her family on her hands and without 
employment, her case seemed desperate. 

However, the crisis was weathered. A place to play 
minor parts at the Park Theatre was offered, and in it 
she remained three years, working toward that mastery 
of stage detail and business which is the equipment 



CHARLOTTE CUSHMAN 325 

of the great actor. Even in these lesser parts she began 
to attract attention, and at last, when John Braham 
was producing a dramatization of Guy Mannering her 
chance came. Going on as an understudy to play the 
part of Meg Merrilies — which she had only an hour 
or two to study — she put such fire and force into the 
part that the star himself was eclipsed. He showed 
none of the professional jealousy, however, and at the 
conclusion of the play came running to her dressing 
room. U I have come to thank you, Miss Cushman," 
he cried, "for the most veritable sensation I have experi- 
enced for a long time. I give you my word when I 
turned and saw you in that first scene I felt a cold chill 
run all over me." 

Meg Merrilies was not designed to be the star part 
in Guy Mannering, but Miss Cushman's genius made 
it so; it was not her favorite part, but the public 
was clamorous for it and she played it hundreds of 
times. There are still living veteran playgoers into 
whose memory is burned indelibly the terrifying weird- 
ness of her impersonation of the witch. 

The coming to the United States in 1843 of Macready, 
the great English tragedian, marked the real fixing of 
Miss Cushman's professional status. Prior to that 
time she had played parts of every sort, turning lightly 
from Nancy Sykes to Lady Gay Spanker, and follow- 
ing the haggard witch, Meg Merrilies, with "breeches 
parts," more fitted to Peg Woffington. With Mac- 
ready she played tragedy only — save for a rather unsuc- 
cessful essay at Beatrice in "Much Ado About Nothing" 
— and she won from the great tragedian hearty sym- 
pathy. As a result she went to London. There wag 



326 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



delay in securing an engagement, and the round of 
sightseeing so depleted her pocketbook that she and 
her maid were reduced to living in lodgings on a single 
chop a day! 

When the engagement came it was to support Edwin 
Forrest, but first she was given a single night with her- 
self as the star. Her success was immediate. The 
lordly Times declared that for "real, impetuous, irre- 
sistible passion," Miss Cushman was unapproachable. 
Later she played Romeo to the Juliet of her sister, 
Susan, at the Haymarket. The supporting company 
rebelled at the idea of a feminine Romeo, and refused 
at first to undertake the performance, but it made a 
hit, and the critic of the Times said, "Miss Cushman's 
Romeo is a creation; a living, breathing, animated 
human being." Indeed, she made of Romeo a mili- 
tant gallant, a pugnacious lover, who might resort to 
force should Juliet refuse to marry him. _ Once when a 
fellow in the audience interrupted the performance 
with a resonant sneeze, obviously not natural but 
designed as an interruption, Miss Cushman in hose 
and doublet strode to the footlights and declared, 
"Some one must put that person out or I shall be 
obliged to do it myself." With a laugh the disturber 
was ejected. 

Thereafter Miss Cushman's career flowed smoothly. 
All honors that a player might win were hers. Pros- 
perity abode with her ever. When the time came for 
her to retire — though her farewell performances were 
painfully recurrent — the occasion was made one of 
state. She had played Lady Macbeth at Booth's 
Theatre in New York, and when the curtain fell upon 



CHARLOTTE CUSHMAN 327 

the last act the audience remained to witness another 
spectacle. The curtain arose again, disclosing on the 
stage a distinguished company, among whom were 
Dion Boucicault, Lester Wallack, Joseph Jefferson, 
John Gilbert and William Cullen Bryant. When the 
actress entered the very walls of the theatre trembled 
with the applause. An ode was read by Richard H. 
Stoddard, and the venerable Bryant presented her 
with a crown of laurel. In her dignified response she 
said, "Art is an absolute mistress; she will not be 
coquetted with or slighted; she requires the most 
entire self-devotion, and she repays with grand tri- 
umphs." 

By this code she lived, and Lawrence Barrett said 
at her death, which occurred in 1876, "bigotry itself 
must stand abashed before the life of our dead queen, 
whose every thought and act were given for years to 
an art which envy and ignorance have battled against 
in vain for centuries." 



NELL GWYN 

(1653-1691) 
"PRETTY NELLY," THE ORANGE GIRL 

IF in this day of a more superficial, or, it may- 
be actual, morality, a girl could come from the 
slums of New York, proceed through the stages of 
street peddler, orange girl in the theatre, be an 
inmate of a brothel and finally wind up as the mistress 
of?a king, and possibly his wife, the world would stand 
aghast. 

Yet this, put in a few blunt phrases, is the life story 
of Nell Gwyn. Her biography has been written by 
some of the foremost literary men of England. It was 
not a particularly stimulating life. If written of a 
woman of to-day it would be held a squalid record of 
immorality leading up to place and power. Yet, as 
the phrase goes, " Other times, other manners," and 
Nell Gwyn, rising slowly from the position of a mere 
pretty girl of the London slums to the power of a king's 
favorite, found no personal antagonism among even 
the more prudish members of the king's court. Even 
old Samuel Pepys, in his immortal diary, tells of meet- 
ing "pretty Nelly," and of her sprightly and clever 
talk. 

The period was one of exceeding levity and frivol- 
ity — Charles II, returning to power after the execu- 

(328) 




NELL GWYN 

From I fa painting by >Si.r l\kr Ldy, Xultuwil I 'oft nnl Galkry 



NELL GWYN 329 



tion of his father, and the time of the commonwealth, 
had established the most profligate court in all Europe. 
It was the time when the theatre was at the point of 
its lowest degradation both in the character of its plays 
and of its actresses. For some reason oranges were 
sold in all parts of theatres as in our days boys hawk 
"books of the opera" or somebody's chocolates. But 
the oranges were sold by young and pretty girls who, 
while the acts were in progress, stood in a semicircle 
about the proscenium inviting attention. Out of this 
circle Nell advanced to a very enviable place on the 
stage. After playing several leading roles she was 
lured from the stage by offers of a fine house, servants 
and jewels by Lord Buckhurst. Within a year she 
proceeded to the lofty station of favorite of the king — 
that same king who, according to the famous couplet, 

Never said a foolish thing, 
And never did a wise one. 

No one can study the career of Nell Gwyn without 
discovering that something more than her beauty led 
to her success — for in that era of easy morals her career 
was held successful. She had wit, good humor and an 
admirable charity. In fact, the founding of Chelsea 
Hospital, a home for old soldiers in their declining years, 
is popularly attributed to her. King Charles II was 
captivated by these qualities rather than by her physi- 
cal charms, and it is worth while saying that during 
her ascendency over the mind of this monarch she never 
used her'power for purposes of personal hatred or for 
revenge. 

She did, however, use it for her own luxurious desires. 



330 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



The girl born in poverty and brought up in the Coal 
Hole, one of London's most notorious slums, the orange 
girl at Drury Lane, learned quickly the love of luxury 
and demanded that it be satisfied. More than that. 
She asked for her two sons by the king the same titles, 
honors and estates that were conferred by him upon 
his other illegitimate sons. 

The dukedom of St. Albans, one of the richest in 
all England, is held to-day by descendants of Nell 
Gwyn. It includes rich property in London, castles 
and fertile fields in the country districts. It came to 
her son only after a most melodramatic attack upon 
the king. He was passing through the street in which 
she lived at the head of an impressive company of 
lords and gentlemen. Leaning out of a third-story 
window she waved the baby over the head of the king 
and threatened to drop him unless he was recognized 
and given a title. Charles, always the good humored, 
agreed and the boy was made duke of St, Albans and 
provided with suitable estates. It seems to have been 
easy for kings in those times to toss the public prop- 
erty to favorites. There are dukes of St. Albans now 
in England drawing huge revenues from their estates, 
but they owe their wealth, their castles and their votes 
in the house of peers to Nell Gwyn, reared in the Coal 
Hole, orange girl at Drury Lane Theatre, and ulti- 
mately the most widely known of the many favorites 
of Charles II. 

Unlike most of his favorites, she was not only faithful 
to him during his life, but to his memory after death. 
That she who had perhaps loved him the most unsel- 
fishly and unobtrusively of all had inspired a deep affec- 



NELL GWYN 331 



tion in his heart is shown by the fact that with his 
dying breath he said to his brother, "Don't let poor 
Nelly starve." 

Nell Gwyn survived her king but a short time, dying 
in her thirty-eighth year. Dr. Thomas Tenison, after- 
ward archbishop of Canterbury, preached her funeral 
sermon, and she was buried in St. Martin's-in-the- 
Fields. American tourists will remember this St. 
Martin's-in-the-Fields as a church which for two 
hundred years has never seen a field- It is directly 
opposite the National Gallery, close to Trafalgar 
Square. 



JENNY LIND 

(1821-1887) 
"THE SWEDISH NIGHTINGALE" 

JENNY LIND was born to poverty and obscurity; 
she achieved wealth and world-wide fame. Her 
father was a good natured incapable; her mother 
supported the family by keeping a school at 
Stockholm. But the school did not succeed and the 
household was broken up. The mother went out as a 
governess and the grandmother was sent to the widow's 
home, taking the child with her. Here a providential 
thing happened. Jenny had a pet cat with which, 
after the blessed fashion of childhood, she could for- 
get her dismal surroundings. Her favorite pastime 
was to sit with this cat in a deep window looking out 
upon a crowded street and sing to it — for even from her 
fourth year she was always singing and she was now 
nine. People used to stop in the street to look at the 
picture and to listen to the sweet childish voice. Among 
others the maid of Mile. Lundberg, a dancer at the 
Royal Opera, heard the singing and told her mistress 
of it. As a result the little girl was brought to sing 
before Mile. Lundberg, who said at once, "The child 
is a genius; you must have her educated for the stage." 
Herr Croelius, singing master of the Royal Theatre, 
was sought out, and in a letter of later years Jenny 

(332) 



JENNY LIND 333 



Lind recalled that he was moved to tears by the simple 
songs she sang. He took her to Count Puke, head of 
the theatre, and recommended that she be enrolled as 
a pupil. 

"How old is she?" asked the count. 

"Nine years." 

"Nine!" thundered the great man. "This isn't a 
nursery. This is the king's theatre." 

But he consented to hear her sing, was instantly 
captivated, admitted her to the school, and for the ensu- 
ing twenty years she was drilled in singing, educated 
and brought up at government expense. They do 
these things better abroad. With us genius must care 
for itself or starve. 

Almost immediately upon her admission to the school 
Jenny began acting, taking, of course, childish parts. 
By the time she was fifteen her voice had begun to find 
itself and she sung in concerts with enough success to 
win some reputation outside of Stockholm. At seven- 
teen the theatre manager concluded that her services 
were insufficiently rewarded by her board and clothes 
and gave her a salary in addition of about sixty pounds 
($300) a year. Twelve years later in the United States 
she was sometimes getting $2,000 for a single concert. 

Until 1840 Jenny Lind sang only in Stockholm, tak- 
ing part in the operas produced at the Royal Theatre. 
Then she made a brief concert tour in the provinces, 
earning thereby enough money to take her to Paris 
for additional study. "Study" was her watchword 
and countersign. She was fond of saying that God 
gave her her voice, but she certainly left nothing undone 
to improve the gift. Once a friend left her alone prac- 



334 WOMEN OF HISTORY 



tising the single German word "zersplittre" on a high 
B flat as it occurs in "Norma." Returning hours later 
she found Jenny still industriously singing the same 
word. 

Arrived at Paris she encountered a terrifying shock. 
Manuel Garcia was the greatest singing master of the 
age and him she sought out. "It would be useless to 
teach you, Mademoiselle," said he gruffly after listen- 
ing to her sing Lucia. "You have no voice left." 
Years after she told Mendelssohn that she suffered 
more agony in that moment than in all the rest of her 
life. But brave, though tearful, she pleaded with the 
master. Grudgingly he told her to go away, sing no 
more and talk but little for three months, then to return. 
She obeyed literally, spending the time in studying 
French. On her return her voice was so greatly restored 
that Garcia accepted her as a scholar. She studied 
with him for ten months, but though she credited him 
with teaching her "some important things," she always 
insisted that "I sing after no one's method; only as 
far as I am able after that of the birds; for their master 
was the only one who came up to my demands for 
truth, clearness and expression." 

Finished with Garcia she was fairly launched in the 
world of opera and concert. Popularity and prosperity 
came at once. The theatre at Stockholm tripled her 
salary, and soon she mustered courage to sing outside 
her native country. Copenhagen went wild over her; 
serenades and torchlight processions were given in her 
honor. It was there that she began a long career of 
charity by giving a concert for a children's aid society 
of which Hans Christian Andersen, inspired teller of 



JENNY LIND 335 



fairy tales, had told her. At the instance of Meyer- 
beer she went to Berlin, where she sang in "Norma 7 ' 
and other operas, but was barred from Meyerbeer's 
own new masterpiece by the jealousy of a rival prima 
donna- By this time what was called the "Jenny 
Lind madness" was sweeping over Europe, and wher- 
ever she went she received more than royal ovations, 
while her houses were crowded and seats sold at a 
heavy premium. In her own country she was treated 
like an empress, and when she left Stockholm for Lon- 
don thousands lined the streets to see her pass and the 
warships in the harbor were dressed, their yards manned 
and all fired salutes as though the king himself were 
passing. 

And all for a bird-like voice and an unspoiled singer! 

Greatest perhaps of all her triumphs was that 
accorded her by the United States, whither she came 
under the management of P. T. Barnum. Nothing in 
the life of that "prince of showmen and of humbugs" 
became him so well as the generous fashion in which he 
treated Jenny Lind. He contracted with her for 150 
concerts at $1,000 each, with all expenses for herself, 
a companion and secretary, a servant, horses and a 
carriage. Of his own volition he later changed the con- 
tract so that whenever the receipts of a concert exceeded 
$5,000 she should share equally with him. Bankers 
from whom he sought to raise his capital laughed at 
him. "You will ruin yourself," said one. "I don't 
believe you will ever take in $3,000 at a concert." But 
Jenny land's share of the proceeds of the first two con- 
certs was nearly $10,000, which she gave to the mayor 
to be divided among the city charities. New York 



336 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

went wild at her arrival. Thousands greeted her at 
the dock and Broadway was spanned with triumphal 
arches in her honor. She sung in old Castle Garden, 
now the Aquarium, and an inspired hatter bought her 
first ticket for $640 and retired rich as a result of the 
advertisement. 

In all American cities she visited these scenes were 
repeated. For her ninety-two concerts under Barnum's 
management she received $176,675. Sixty more were 
given under her own management. They lacked the 
master hand of Barnum, but netted enough to bring her 
total American earnings up to at least $250,000. Of 
this she gave away in this country about $40,000, and 
the rest was retained intact as a charity fund to be 
distributed at her death. No woman ever gave away 
so much of her own earnings; her total beneficences 
are estimated at over half a million dollars. 

In the United States she met and married Otto Gold- 
schmidt, an accomplished musician twelve years her 
junior. Her marriage was happy to the end of her days. 

For a quarter of a century after her American tour 
Jenny Lind lived the ideal life of a great artist, singing 
in the chief cities and courts of Europe and idolized 
by all peoples. If any great woman ever reaped 
heaven's reward for goodness, benevolence and sim- 
plicity, surely it was she. She saw her children grow 
to maturity and felt her grandchildren clustering about 
her knee. In November, 1887, she died, and almost 
on her last day, as her daughter threw open the blinds 
and let in the sun, she raised herself on her pillow and 
in a voice still sweet sang a song she loved, "An den 
Sonnenschein." 



MADAME RISTORI 

(1822-1906) 
. THE COLUMBUS OF ITALIAN DRAMATIC ART 

A DELAIDE RISTORI was born to the stage. 
ZA At three months of age she appeared in what 
X A had been planned to be a thinking part of 
which she made a speaking one — for the baby, 
extracted from a basket of eggs, fowls and vegetables, 
set up a bitter wail that sent the audience into roars 
of laughter. Venice was her birthplace, her parents 
actors of the strolling class. The footlights furnished 
most of her daylight, and the musty odor of the stage 
her favorite atmosphere. At sixteen she had mastered 
so much of the technique of dramatic art that she 
was offered the place of leading lady in a creditable 
stock company. Her father evidently did not believe 
in the role of infant phenomenon, for he declined the 
offer for his daughter. Shortly thereafter he placed 
her in a company of higher class, which played before 
the King of Sardinia. 

Here she played the parts for which her age fitted 
her and studied the minutise of her profession. Though 
naturally a gay girl, fond of playing tricks on her 
fellow players, she was early attracted to tragic roles, 
though but few were given her to act. Among her 
pleasures were visits to insane asylums to study the 

22 (337) 



338 MADAME RISTORI 

manifestations of madness in the inmates, or to ceme- 
teries, where she read the more lugubrious epitaphs. 
These rather abnormal and unhealthy diversions she 
put aside as she grew older. 

The hold that Ristori had upon the Italian theatre 
does not seem to have been attained by any single 
spectacular triumph. Her art and her popular favor 
grew with her years, until she had won first place 
among Italian tragediennes. She herself hardly appre- 
ciated the importance of the position to which she had 
risen. In the midst of her triumphs she married the 
Marquis de Grillo, and calmly contemplated leaving 
the stage for a quiet matrimonial life. 

One victory, however, she sought to win before 
retiring. She wanted to defend on the Paris stage 
the laurels won by Italian actors. Until her day no 
Italian actor had ever carried his art north of the Alps. 
She was the first of that procession, which later in- 
cluded Duse and Salvini, to visit the United States. 
But in 1858, when she first broached the proposition 
of taking the Royal Sardinian Company to Paris, 
the proposition was looked upon as chimerical. 

However, she carried her point and won. She had 
played but a brief time in Paris before the critics and 
dramatists were at her feet. Her audiences were 
riotous with applause. 

Without decrying the genius of Ristori, it may be 
pointed out that the moment was most propitious for 
her to invade Paris. Rachel, the pet of the boule- 
vardiers and the acknowledged tragedy queen, had just 
announced her purpose of making a tour of the United 
States, and the sensitive Parisians construed this as 



WOMEN OF HISTORY 339 



disloyalty to their city. Moreover, the journals pro- 
fessed to see in the appearance of this challenging star 
a bold defiance of Rachel. Meddlesome first nighters 
rushed from seeing Ristori to stir Rachel's jealousy 
with accounts of the Italian's genius, or vice versa. 
The enemies of Rachel used Ristori to annoy and crush 
her, as in later days Duse was employed against Bern- 
hardt. 

The two principals bore themselves with the hauteur 
of contending generals. Each wanted peace, but 
neither wished to make the overtures. A dressmaker 
finally bridged the bloody chasm by conveying mes- 
sages from one to the other. Each saw the other act 
and sent, in writing, polite compliments. The Pari- 
sian journalists breathed again and Rachel sailed for 
the United States. But the two actresses never met. 
A modern press agent would give a fortune for such 
a farcical war. 

With Paris conquered, Ristori played Dresden, 
Berlin and Vienna, returned for a time to Italy, and 
then again visited Paris. While in Italy she was so 
carried away with the simulated wrath of the heroine 
Phedre that she fell in a fit into the footlights and was 
severely cut and burned by the kerosene lamps which 
were used for that purpose. 

In Paris on her second visit she made her first essay 
in playing in a foreign tongue. Legouve, in whose 
drama "Medea" Ristori had won a triumph after it 
had been rejected by Rachel, fairly adored the Italian 
actress. He was eager that she should learn to play 
in French, but she ridiculed the idea. With clever 
tact he first persuaded her to recite for him alone 



340 MADAME RISTORI 

some French verses he had written. Assuring her 
that her pronunciation was admirable, he got her to 
repeat them in the theatre, where the audience ap- 
plauded warmly. Later he wrote a one-act play which 
she performed in French, and in time she employed 
the French language altogether when on the French 
stage. In later years she mastered English also and 
played Lady Macbeth with Edwin Booth in that 
tongue in New York, and Mary Stuart with a German 
speaking company at the old Thalia Theatre in the 
Bowery. 

It is curious that although an Italian of Italians, 
many of Ristori's best parts depicted English char- 
acters — the two mentioned above and Queen Elizabeth. 

In Spain the great popularity of the actress brought 
her a most curious experience. Before one of her 
performances a deputation of citizens called upon her 
to beg her intercession in behalf of a soldier sentenced 
to be shot. Spurred on by compassion, the tragedienne 
during an entr'act threw herself at the feet of the 
Queen of Spain pleading for his pardon, which was 
granted. The act of mercy produced its embarrass- 
ments, for the warrior, who had been taking the last 
sacrament of his church when the pardon arrived, sat 
in the same seat at each of her Madrid performances 
and shouted " Vive Ristori!" until his neighbors thought 
him mad. 

But her influence was sought for even higher ends. 
Cavour, greatest of Italian statesmen in the nineteenth 
century, wrote her: "Do use that authority of yours for 
the benefit of our country and I will not only applaud 
in you the first actress of Europe, but also the most 



WOMEN OF HISTORY 341 

efficacious co-operator with our diplomatic negotia- 
tions.*' There was some reason in the premier's sug- 
gestion, for Ristori became a world-wide traveler, 
always entertained by the governing classes. From 
St. Petersburg to Madrid, and Vienna to London in 
Europe she carried her art, then to the United States, 
Brazil and other South American countries. New 
Zealand, Australia, Ceylon and Egypt she visited. 
"Who was it discovered real art to the Americans at 
a time when to cross the ocean meant to make one's 
will?" asked a lively Italian journalist. "Ristori! 
Hurrah then; let us call her the Columbus of Italian 
Dramatic Art." 

Wearied with much travel, Ristori retired to private 
life in 1885 while her powers were yet unabated — earlier 
in life, indeed, than the period at which Bernhardt 
descended to vaudeville. She died in Rome in 1906, 
having spent her last years in the scholarly circles she 
loved and in the very heart of the land she had done 
so much to honor. 



MRS. SIDDONS 

(1755-1831) 



"the tragic muse" 



A FAMILY of strolling players of the eighteenth 
century was stranded once in a little Welsh 
village. The name of Brecou would long 
since have been forgotten save that July 5, 
1755, in a chamber under the thatched roof of the 
village inn, "The Shoulder of Mutton," was born the 
girl child destined to be known wherever the English 
drama is known as Mrs. Siddons, "The Tragic Muse." 
From "The Shoulder of Mutton" to the palaces of 
Mayfair and Belgravia is an ascent more difficult 
than that of the Matterhorn, but this girl Sarah 
Kemble accomplished it, not, though, without attend- 
ant sufferings and faltering by the way. 

The folk of whom Sarah Kemble was sprung were 
strollers, of course, "barnstormers" we would call 
them to-day, but yet of a superior type. For that 
matter the general intellectual average of the stage 
was higher perhaps than now, for Roger Kemble, her 
father, and his company played the great classic 
tragedies on circuits which nowadays demand "Belles 
of the Bowery" or "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and are 
scarce satisfied unless the latter is embellished with 
two Topsies. 

(342) 




MRS. SIDDOXS 
From tin puutling by Sir Jnahmi ti< ijnohts 



MRS. SIDDONS 343 

Growing up in the environment of the strollers — a 
people forced to be clannish because of the good- 
natured contempt with which they were treated by 
those about them — the girl naturally became herself 
an actress. Furthermore, being personally attractive, 
both in face and figure, she made an early marriage — 
and, after the fashion of pretty actresses, a foolish one. 
Henry Siddons, whom she married in 1773, was an 
actor in her father's company — that is, until Roger 
Kemble discovered he was making love to Sarah, 
when he was incontinently "fired" and the girl exiled 
to Warwickshire, where she became a lady's maid to 
a lady of quality. Poor Siddons was not a bad, only 
a co mm onplace, actor, and at this juncture must 
have been a lad of some spirit, for he rescued his 
fair one from personal servitude in the country and 
married her in Coventry, Thereafter for some time 
the twain went up and down the provinces playing 
everything from pantomime to Shakespeare. Siddons 
may be dismissed now with the statement that he grew 
not a whit by the practice of his art, and when his 
wife attained greatness settled down placidly to the 
position of an actress's husband, nursing the children 
and speculating, always disastrously, with her earnings. 

In the England of that day success at Drury Lane 
was the sure pathway to national eminence on the 
stage. Mrs. Siddons had her opportunity in 1775 
and failed dismally. She had not attained the full 
fruition of her genius, nor did she, or the manager, 
Garrick, understand at that time that her talent lent 
itself to the stateliness and majesty of tragedy and 
not to comedy. Sorely grieved by this reverse, she 



344 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

went back to the provinces and played for four seasons 
at an average wage of £3 ($15) a week. 

Notwithstanding the pessimistic poem of the late 
Senator Ingalls, opportunity does knock more than 
once at each man's door. Its second call to Sarah 
Siddons came in the shape of an offer from the new 
manager of Drury Lane, Richard Brinsley Sheridan. 
Forgetting her past failure, she hastened to London 
and in 1782 began rehearsing the part of Isabella in 
Garrick's version of "The Fatal Marriage " — a play 
of compelling pathos, now practically forgotten. Not 
unnaturally the ordeal for which she was preparing 
filled her with apprehension. Of a placid, almost 
phlegmatic, temperament, she became a prey to ex- 
treme nervousness, even, as the moment for the first 
production approached, losing her voice for none but 
nervous causes. 

"On the morning of the 10th" (the day of the pro- 
duction), she writes, "my voice was, most happily, 
perfectly restored, and again 'the blessed sun shone 
brightly on me.' On this eventful day my father 
arrived to comfort me and be a witness to my trial. 
He accompanied me to my dressing room at the 
theatre and then left me; and I, in one of what I call 
my desperate tranquillities, which usually impress me 
under terrific circumstances, there completed my 
dress, to the astonishment of my attendants, without 
uttering one word, though often sighing most pro- 
foundly." 

Enough now to say that her audience was swept 
away. Tears attended her sadly solemn scenes, to be 
succeeded by cheers as the curtain fell. She awoke 



MRS. SIDDONS 345 



the next morning to find herself the talk of the town — 
the most sought after woman in London, People 
fought for seats; even breakfasted near the theatre 
to be sure of getting good places, " Madam," said 
Dr, Johnson, when she called at his always ill-furnished 
lodgings, and he was somewhat put to it to find her 
a chair, "you who so often occasion a want of seats 
to other people will the more easily excuse the want 
of one yourself,' 9 

From one of the annoyances of a successful actress 
her stateliness and demeanor, tragic as well off the 
stage as on, protected her. "I'd as soon make love 
to the Archbishop of Canterbury as to Mrs. Siddons," 
said Sheridan once, when accused of over-devotion to 
his star. This deportment was no pose, but the natural 
effect of a mind continually occupied with high thoughts 
upon the body it dominated. The story goes that, 
buying a piece of calico, she inquired in tones so deep 
and tragical, "Will it wash?" that the affrighted shop- 
man started back, falling in collapse against his shelves. 
"Witness truth!" she cried laughingly, when told this 
story, "I never meant to be tragical." 

But there was in her at all times something of the 
tragedy queen. On the stage her intensity sometimes 
wholly unmanned the actor playing opposite to her. 
Young, one of the best of her support, was struck 
dumb by her vehemence in a certain part and had all 
he could do to finish his act; while another actor, 
coming trembling and unmanned from the stage, 
said, "That woman plays as though the thing were 
in earnest. She looks me so through and through 
with her black eyes that I would not for the world 



346 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

meet her on the stage again." Perhaps the one time 
she met her match was when a guileless callboy she 
had sent for a pot of porter wherewith to restore her- 
self after the sleep-walking scene in "Macbeth," 
brought the foaming beaker, not to the dressing room, 
but to her on the stage in full view of the audience, 
which roared. Even then she regained her dignity 
and won her auditors back to the mood of terror which 
that scene compels. 

Mrs. Siddons lived a long life full of honors, dying 
at the age of seventy-six. She retired from the stage 
at fifty-seven, but truth compels the statement that 
her farewell performances were almost as many as 
those of Patti or of Bernhardt. It is hard for those 
who have known the limelight ever to forego it. The 
poet Rogers told how, sitting with him one afternoon, 
the old lady said with a sigh: "Oh, dear! This is 
the time I used to be thinking of going to the theatre. 
First came the pleasure of dressing for my part, and 
then the pleasure of acting it. But that is all over 
now." 

Sir Joshua Reynolds was inspired by Mrs. Siddons 
to one of his finest portraits, which he inscribed to her 
as "The Tragic Muse." At her request Dr. Johnson 
inscribed his name at the edge of the portrait. "I 
would not lose," he said, "the honor this opportunity 
afforded me for my name going down to posterity on 
the hem of your garment." 







*■."«> 



Hftfr 



PEG WOFFINGTON 
From the painting by James Latham 



"PEG" WOFFINGTON 

(1720-1760) 

"queen of all hearts" 

BORN in a squalid court of Dublin "with the 
trowel and the wash tub for a coat of arms" 
(for her father was a mason and her mother 
a washwoman), a hawker of salads and oranges 
on the street at six and a child acrobat at ten, Mar- 
garet Woffington, whom men preferred to call "Peg," 
came to lead the English stage, entrancing men with 
her beauty and dramatic art in the theatre, dazzling 
them with her ready wit in private, and it must be 
confessed amusing them with her matter-of-fact and 
multitudinous immoralities. Her career was not 
unlike that of Nell Gwyn, save that "pretty Nelly" 
found safe harbor at last under the protection of a 
king, while Peg, constant to no one, went onto the 
rocks at last. 

Her first serious essay in acting was with a company 
of children, all under ten years old, in the Beggars' 
Opera. Showing signs of promise in this, she was 
instructed by friends in dramatic art and made a hit 
as Ophelia in 1736. Supposing the commonly accepted 
date of her birth, 1720, to be authentic this would 
argue singular precocity, but some writers aver that 
this was the date fixed in later years by the successful 

(347) 



348 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

actress not anxious to grow old too speedily and the 
true date was several years earlier. Be that as it 
may, her girlish manner and her beauty won all her 
auditors, even when she appeared in parts unfitted 
to her years. But it was in what were then called 
"breeches parts" that she really captured all behold- 
ers. Her figure, a veritable model of perfection, and 
her genius for aping the manners and carriage of the 
sterner sex charmed the town of Dublin, then esteemed 
as great a dramatic centre as London itself. After 
she had won a triumph as Sir Harry Wildair, in "The 
Constant Couple/' a Dublin bard broke forth into 
poesy thus: 

That excellent Peg; 

Who showed such a leg, 
When lately she dressed in men's clothes 

A creature uncommon. 

Who's both man and woman 
The chief of the belles and the beaux! 

A less kindly comment upon her success as a male 
impersonator was expressed by James Quin, an actor 
with whom she was continually sparring. She came 
off the stage in London with the theatre ringing with 
applause for her Sir Harry Wildair. 

"Mr. Quin," she cried in elation, finding him sitting 
in the greenroom, "I have played this part so often 
that half the town believe me to be a real man." 
, " Madam," said Quin gruffly, "the other half know 
you to be a woman." 

Poor Peggy! She was not offended. Ideas of con- 
ventional morality and propriety were as foreign to 
her as to the islanders of the South Seas a century ago. 



"PEG" WOFFINGTON 349 

In the height of her Dublin season she disappeared — 
gone to London with the handsome son of an Irish 
lord. In idyllic but unhallowed bliss the couple lived 
for some months, when Peggy discovered that her 
protector was planning to marry an heiress, i Wrought 
up by jealousy and pique, she put her dramatic talent 
into play to circumvent the villain of her domestic 
drama. Assuming the name of "Mr. Adair/' she 
swaggered about the town attired in "silken hose and 
satin breeches with broidered waistcoat and wide 
flapped coat, powdered, painted and bewigged." She 
sought the new deity of her faithless swain. The lady 
was found at Vauxhall Gardens, the faithless lover 
was duly denounced and the marriage broken off. 

Bereft now of a protector, Peg set forth to seek 
employment. She found it after some delay at Covent 
Garden, where she appeared as Sylvia in "The Recruit- 
ing Officer." This being in some degree a "breeches 
part," she made an immediate hit. She became the 
toast of the town and soon transferred her talents 
to Drury Lane, where she appeared in all sorts of plays 
from roaring farces to Shakespearian productions. 
There, too, she met David Garrick, with whom she 
formed a connection that lasted for years. They 
played in Dublin together, winning both guineas and 
applause. Returning to London, they set up house- 
keeping together, with the novel agreement that each 
should pay the bills during alternate months. It is 
a matter of record that guests found the hospitality 
more lavish during Peg's months. 

For Garrick she seems to have had a more serious 
affection than for any other of her uncounted lovers. 



350 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Unquestionably they at one time contemplated mar- 
riage. Once bounding off the stage with the applause 
of the house roaring behind her, Peg met Garrick 
standing in the wings. " Queen of all hearts!" said 
he in compliment. "Aye, queen of all hearts!" re- 
torted the WofBngton meaningly, "yet not legal mis- 
tress of one." Garrick took the hint. Soon after he 
broached the subject of marriage and even bought 
the ring. But reflection on Peg's multitudinous affairs 
of the heart rather cooled his ardor and he confessed 
as much to her. In high indignation she told him to 
keep the ring he was then holding in his hand, and 
never expect to have anything to do with her except 
in a business way at the theatre. To this determination 
she adhered despite Garrick's appeals for a renewal of 
their friendship. 

With all her laxity of morals the Woffington was 
strictness itself in keeping up her work on the stage. 
Most actresses, tenacious of their own dignity, refuse 
to take parts they think beneath their talents. Not 
so Peg. Somebody called her "an actress of all work" 
for the cheerfulness with which she would fill in. Per- 
haps it was this which made her so widely popular. 
But the best critics of the day conceded to her talent, 
even genius. Her chief weakness, one which would 
have been fatal to any one not possessing surpassing 
dramatic art, was a harsh, shrill voice. She knew it, 
her audiences knew it, but all made allowances for it. 
In Portia occurs the line, "He knows me, as the blind 
man knows the cuckoo by the bad voice." When 
Peg declaimed this in her shrill tones the audience 
laughed and she joined good humoredly in the laughter. 



"PEG" WOFFINGTON 351 

With her hold on her audiences continually increas- 
ing, the end came in dramatic, almost tragic, form. 
One night in 1758 she was playing Rosalind at Co vent 
Garden. All day she had complained of feeling ill, 
but her fixed determination never to disappoint her 
audiences carried her through the play and into the 
epilogue. This she had just begun to repeat when 
she staggered, clasped her hands over her eyes and, 
crying, "My God! My God!" tottered to the wings. 
The friendly audience strove to call her back, but she 
never trod the boards again. A paralytic stroke had 
felled her and Peg Woffington never acted more. 

In a villa at Teddington she lived out the remainder 
of her days — about three years. Her old wit clung to 
her. Once a noble lord with whose son her sister — 
a famous beauty — had eloped, called on her to com- 
plain. Her charm of manner enraptured him and he 
began to express his satisfaction with the match. 
"My lord," said she, "I have much more reason to be 
offended at it than your lordship, for whereas I had 
but one beggar to support, I now have two." 

To the very day of her death, which occurred in 
March, 1760, efforts were made to induce her to return 
to the stage without avail. "I will never," she is 
reported to have said, "destroy my reputation by 
clinging to the shadow after the substance is gone. 
When I can no longer bound on the boards with at 
least some show of youthful vigor, and when the 
enthusiasm of the public begins to show signs of decay, 
that will be the last appearance of Margaret Wof- 
fington." 

And she kept her word. 



SARAH BERNHARDT 

A STAGE IDOL FOR FIFTY TEARS 

I IKE the other great French tragedienne, Rachel, 
Sarah Bernhardt was born a Jewess, though 
-* she was educated in the Roman Catholic faith. 
Her parentage was somewhat obscure — not to 
say mysterious. She describes her mother as a Dutch 
Jewess, but of her father she spoke little and seemingly 
knew less. It is fair to presume that he was a French- 
man and a Catholic. This composite parentage some- 
times proved embarrassing. After the Franco-Prussian 
War Bernhardt's enemies charged that she was a 
German — an assertion which her accent seemed to 
strengthen. She had to vaunt her mother's Holland 
descent to escape hissing. In Russia, where religious 
prejudice runs high, she was accused of being a Jewess 
and was forced to call upon the shade of her Catholic 
i^cher to rescue her popularity. 

Whatever her ancestry, Sarah was born for the 
stage. She herself seldom doubted this, though she 
did remark contemplatively that she intended to be 
a nun unless she could be an actress at the Com&Iie 
Fran§aise. But the coulisses claimed her and the 
convent lost a most remarkable novice. 

When barely fifteen she was entered as a student 
at the Conservatoire, the great dramatic school of 

(352) 



SARAH BERNHARDT 353 

Paris, and within three years made her d6but at the 
Com&lie Frangais. Though horribly frightened, ac- 
cording to her own report, she made a moderate hit. 
That is to say, the dramatic .critics, those arbiters of 
French dramatic success, all mentioned her name and 
were not particularly ill-natured in their references 
to her acting, though the audience laughed at her 
thin arms. But her stay at the Com^die was brief. 
In a fit of temper of the sort that characterized her 
through life she slapped the face of the leading lady. 
Leading ladies are not made to be thus used and the 
presumptuous girl was promptly banished. 

In 1880, her association with the Com^die having 
been renewed, she broke it again in a rage, sacrificing 
some $20,000 in penalties. But she never worried about 
money. Often "broke," she could always replenish 
her purse by tours abroad. The Paris theatres were, 
of course, ever open to her, but the two Americas 
were her El Dorado. Her earnings there were pro- 
digious and through South America, where the Gallic 
strain was strong, her progress was fairly regal. The 
heroines of the French classic drama and the modern, 
and perhaps more morbid types, like Camille and La 
Tosca, engaged her genius, and every great French 
dramatist from Racine to Rostand has found her his 
most brilliant interpreter. Committing a thousand 
follies, she has won ten thousand triumphs. 

In her autobiography— which reads suspiciously 
like the handiwork of a Parisian journalist — she re- 
peatedly declares that she never cared for the theatre. 
Yet when advancing age compelled her to give up 
sustained performances she "went into vaudeville." 

23 



354 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

There is a curious similarity in the parts she has chosen 
for herself since she was strong enough to choose. 
As one critic puts it, "In all her dramatic flights Sarah 
has courted death. Throughout her astounding career 
she has died in all styles. She has jumped into the 
river and ended; she has been extinguished by poisons; 
she has succumbed to tuberculosis; she has been shot 
into kingdom come. She has rarely elected to survive 
in any of her plays. The idea of living happily ever 
afterward was invariably repulsive to her." 

A restless many-sided character is Sarah. Not 
content with dramatic triumphs, she essayed sculpture 
and painting and won high praise. She was as apt 
with her own tongue as in mouthing the utterances 
of great characters. In the United States a clergy- 
man pleasantly referred to her as "an imp of dark- 
ness, a female demon sent from the modern Babylon 
to corrupt the New World." Sarah responded with 
the retort courteous thus: 

"My dear Confrere: 

"Why attack me so violently? Actors ought not 
to be hard on one another. 

"Sarah Bernhardt." 

Hers was the genius of advertising. Her quarrels 
with the Comedie, the faces she slapped, her swoons, 
her emotions on essaying a new part were all grist 
for the press agent's mill. She took two young lions 
for pets and her picture with the two cubs — no more 
feline than she — was scattered over the world. She 
had her coffin made and professed to sleep in it to the 
joy of newspaper makers and readers the world over. 



SARAH BERNHARDT 355 

For the coffin story M. Edmond Rostand, the author 
of Cyrano de Bergerac, refused to stand. "I never 
made the acquaintance of the Sarah with the coffin/' 
he wrote, and thereupon gave his description of the 
Sarah he did know in phrase as nervous as she was, 
thus: 

"A brougham stops at a door; a woman enveloped 
in furs jumps out, threads her way with a smile through 
the crowd attracted by the jingling of the bell on the 
harness, and mounts a winding stair; plunges into a 
room crowded with flowers and heated like a hothouse; 
throws her little beribboned handbag with its appar- 
ently inexhaustible contents into one corner and her 
bewinged hat into another; takes off her furs and 
instantaneously dwindles into a mere scabbard of 
white silk; rushes on to a dimly lighted stage and 
immediately puts life into a whole crowd of listless, 
yawning, loitering folk; dashes backwards and for- 
wards, inspiring every one with her own feverish 
energy; goes into the prompter's box, arranges her 
scenes, points oiit the proper gesture and intonation, 
rises up in wrath and insists on everything being done 
over again ; shouts with fury ; sits down, smiles, 
drinks tea and begins to rehearse her own part; draws 
tears from case-hardened actors who thrust their en- 
raptured heads out of the wings to watch her; returns 
to her room where the decorators are waiting, de- 
molishes their plans and reconstructs them; collapses, 
wipes her brow with a lace handkerchief and thinks 
of fainting; suddenly rushes up to the fifth floor, 
invades the premises of the astonished costumier, 
rummages in the wardrobes, makes up a costume, 



356 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

pleats and adjusts it; returns to her room and teaches 
the figurantes how to dress their hair; has a piece read 
to her while she makes bouquets; listens to hundreds 
of letters, weeps over some tale of misfortune, and 
opens the inexhaustible little clinking handbag; con- 
fers with an English perruquier; returns to the stage 
to superintend the lighting of a scene, objurgates the 
lamps and reduces the electrician to a state of tem- 
porary insanity; sees a super who has blundered the 
day before, remembers it, and overwhelms him with 
her indignation;" — but enough! We cannot follow 
the Parisian to the end of his brain storm. Let us 
dismiss the subject of this sketch with Mark Twain's 
simpler comment on her entire uniqueness: "There 
are five kinds of actresses, bad actresses, fair actresses, 
good actresses, great actresses and Sarah Bernhardt." 




ADELINA PATTI 



ADELINA PATTI 

THE QUEEN OF SONG 

ADELINA PATTI was born to the opera stage 
A-\ and narrowly escaped being born on it, for her 
-*- -^ mother was singing in Norma, at Madrid, in 
1843 when the first warning of the coming 
birth came to her. "Scarcely had they returned from 
the theatre to the hotel," said Patti in relating the 
event to the Queen of Spain years afterward, "than 
she could whisper to her delighted husband, 'I am a 
mother/ words which a few hours before was Norma's 
last confession to her father the Arch-Druid." Father 
and mother alike were opera singers, and of high 
standing in their profession. The child was able to 
sing all kinds of operatic airs at the age of six. She 
had been nurtured in a musical atmosphere, heard 
artists of every degree at practice and music bubbled 
from her throat as naturally as clear water from a 
spring. 

In tastes and pleasures she was like other children, 
even though she made her concert d6but at the age 
of seven. It is recorded that on one occasion in Cin- 
cinnati her manager, Strakosch, had promised her a 
doll and then — man fashion — had forgotten all about 
it. Not so the child. The time for her appearance 
on the platform arrived, but no doll. Without it she 

(357) 



358 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

would not budge. Vainly did the manager promise 
indescribable things in the way of dolls after the per- 
formance. Adelina wanted one doll first. At last a 
frantic rush was made for the nearest toy shop and a 
doll procured. Then full of joy she mounted the 
platform and sang so that her audience was enraptured. 
Thus early in life she learned the simple way of coercing 
managers and in her later years not infrequently 
employed it to bring to light, instead of dolls, dollars 
that she feared might be inconveniently overlooked. 

For a great part of her career Patti was looked upon 
as an American prima donna, though she was born in 
Spain of Italian parents and adopted the Italian manner 
in her singing. This proceeded from the fact that her 
earlier days were spent in this country, where her 
father, Salvatore Patti, was striving with scant success 
to interest Americans in Italian opera. In 1850 at a 
concert at New York she made her d6but by singing 
the last rondo of La Sonnambula, and the "Echo 
Song" which Jenny Lind had just made famous. 
Until she was eleven she traveled under the manage- 
ment of her brother-in-law, Strakosch, in a concert 
company in which the other leading attraction was the 
violinist Ole Bull. Her operatic d6but was made in 
New York in the part of Lucia di Lammermoor. The 
Herald in a somewhat guarded criticism said, "Every- 
one predicts a career for this young artist, and who 
knows but the managers may find in her a long-looked- 
for sensation." Two years later she took London by 
storm at Covent Garden and ever thereafter she was 
the Queen of Opera until her retirement to her castle 
in South Wales, Craig-y-Nos (The Rock of Night). 



ADELINA PATTI 359 

No opera singer ever held her voice or her public 
so long as Adelina Patti. None ever was paid such 
prices for individual concerts or rolled up such colossal 
earnings in a lifetime. Covent Garden paid tribute 
to her for twenty-five consecutive seasons. After 
remaining away from the United States for twenty-two 
years, she returned in 1881 to receive a truly royal 
greeting. In his memoirs Col. Mapleson says of her 
San Francisco reception at this time: 

"On the day of the performance it took the whole 
of the police force to protect the theatre from the 
overwhelming crowds pressing for tickets, although it 
had been announced that no more were to be had. 
Long before daylight the would-be purchasers of Patti 
tickets had collected and formed a line reaching the 
length of some three or four streets, and from this time 
until the close of the engagement some four weeks 
later that line was never broken at any period of day 
or night. A brisk trade was done in hiring camp stools, 
for which the modest sum of four shillings ($1) was 
charged. A similar amount was levied for a cup of 
coffee or a slice of bread and butter. Ticket specu- 
lators were now offering seats at from four pounds 
($20) to ten pounds ($50) each, places in the fifth row 
of the dress circle fetching as much as four pounds, 
being 400 per cent, above the office price." 

The popularity of Patti measured by the vulgar 
yardstick of dollars and cents was amazing. For the 
concerts under Mapleson's management she received 
$5,000 each, and for those in South America, where 
she went in 1888, the same amount plus a share in the 
profits when they exceeded $10,000. In Chicago 



360 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

once she was paid $4,000 for singing "Home, Sweet 
Home/ 7 in the Auditorium. The list of diamonds and 
other jewels bestowed upon her by sovereigns and 
other dignitaries is fairly dazzling. Indeed, it is im- 
probable that any woman not of royal birth ever 
enjoyed intimacy with so many crowned heads. Her 
castle is fairly crowded with rare gifts and portraits 
bearing the autographs of European sovereigns. 

To one who marveled that her throat and vocal 
cords had so well resisted the strain of half a century 
of concert and operatic singing Mme. Patti said, "I 
have never tired it. (Speaking of her voice.) I never 
sing when I am tired, and that means I am never tired 
when I sing, and that I have never strained for high 
notes. I have heard that the first question asked of 
new vocalists nowadays is, 'How high can you sing?' 
But I always thought that the least important matter 
in singing. One should sing only what one can sing 
with perfect ease." 

As a result of this method Sir Morel Mackenzie, the 
world's greatest throat specialist, was able to say of 
her throat when she was fifty, "That great singer has 
the most wonderful throat I have ever seen. It is 
the only one I have ever seen with the vocal cords 
in absolutely perfect condition after many years of 
use. They are not strained or warped or roughened." 

Patti was thrice married. In 1868 she wedded the 
Marquis de Caux, an equerry of Napoleon III and a 
well known figure on the Paris boulevards. The 
marriage was unhappy. Rouge et noir claimed too 
much of the diva's earnings, for the husband was a 
passionate gambler. They were in the end separated, 



ADELINA PATTI 861 

at last divorced, and Patti within a year married 
Nicolini, an erstwhile blacksmith who had won high 
fame as a tenor. This was the more amazing marriage 
of the two, for the singer had long expressed contempt 
and hatred for the tenor, and had used every effort to 
avoid appearing with him. His boasts of conquests 
over women affronted her, yet in the end she was 
conquered. : After a few years of wretched wedded 
life Nicolini died and his widow married Baron Ceder- 
strom, a Swede who became a naturalized Englishman. 
With him she retired to her queenly estate in South 
Wales and the public thereafter heard her but little- 
After her d£but at Covent Garden the life of Adelina 
Patti — save for her matrimonial misadventures — was a 
primrose path through the pleasant places of Europe 
and America- Kings and queens loved to honor her 
and to shower upon her rich gifts of precious gems. 
All mankind wooed her like another Danae with showers 
of gold. In luxury, in state and in the adulation of 
men the Queen of Song has had nothing to ask of any 
other monarch. 



LOUISA MAY ALCOTT 

(1832-1888) 



THE U J0" OF "LITTLE WOMEN " 



IN this day and age when women, having won their 
place in the industrial and economic life of the 
nation, are attacking the political stronghold of 
masculine privilege, it is fitting to note that Louisa 
Alcott, the inspired writer of "Little Women, " was a 
very practical suffragist herself. Surely she had every 
reason to be. Not only was she the architect of her 
own fortunes, but she supported in comfort a family 
which her father, kindly, gentle and intellectual to 
the point of super-refinement as he was, could not 
maintain. As she could not shoulder a musket in the 
war between the states, she nursed in the military 
hospital at Washington and sacrificed her health to 
her duty. It was but fitting, therefore, that toward 
the end of her life we find her describing how she "drove 
about and drummed up women for my suffrage meet- 
ing" in Concord, and announcing with lofty defiance: 
"I for one do not want to be numbered among idiots, 
felons and minors any longer, for I am none of them." 
It is not, however, of the militant Louisa Alcott 
that history will have most to say, but rather of the 
woman whose first essay in the way of an extended 
work of fiction sold by the hundreds of thousands and 

(362) 



LOUISA MAY ALCOTT 363 

is still selling. Its initial success, too, was won in a 
day when the reading public was vastly smaller than 
now and the present art of handling a new book like a 
circus had not been invented. 

The parents of Louisa Alcott, who was born in Ger- 
mantown, Pa., were people of no ordinary mould. 
Her mother was of the best New England lineage, a 
Sewall by birth, connected with the Hancocks and the 
Quincys. Her father, Bronson Alcott, was a man 
in whom pure intellect had swallowed up all other 
qualities. He was a student, an inspired teacher, a 
philosopher of moods so abstruse that few could grasp 
his meanings. 

Poverty of a sort was long with the Alcotts, but it 
did not crush them as a like degree of penury would a 
similar family to-day. At that time it was not quite 
"the thing" to be rich. The idea of a Tom Lawson 
or a Carnegie setting up as a writer or a patron of 
literature would have been inconceivable in the circles 
in which moved Whittier, Emerson, Hawthorne, 
Channing and Alcott. But if none of their associates 
were rich the Alcotts were downright poor and the 
philosopher could do nothing to relieve their poverty. 
A school he founded in Boston, in which he had for 
assistants Miss Peabody, afterward Hawthorne's wife, 
and Margaret Fuller, lost two-thirds of its pupils when 
he published a most unorthodox work, " Conversations 
on the Gospels," and the rest disappeared when he 
took a little negro girl into his classes. He was left 
with four white pupils, of whom three were his own 
daughters. 

At sixteen Louisa began to contribute to the family 



364 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

income by teaching school. Her own education had 
been wholly unsystematic, entirely haphazard and 
therefore good for the career Fate had in store for her. 
An outdoor life had given her a rugged constitution — 
she used to say she would not have a playmate who 
could not climb a tree. Ceaseless association with 
books and with cultivated people gave her command of 
language, and her mother's insistence that all of her 
children should keep journals taught her the art of 
expression. The very first story she wrote, at the age 
of sixteen, though not sent out until she was twenty, 
was published and, what is more remarkable, paid for. 
"I can't do much with my hands," she wrote in her 
journal about this time, "so I will use my head as a 
battering-ram to make my way through this rough- 
and-tumble world." She used it to some purpose, 
writing at this time ten or twelve stories a month, 
most of which were published in the Boston Evening 
Gazette. When the editor found they were written by 
a woman he sought to cut down her pay, but she defied 
him and won her point. 

So for some years she went on writing short stories 
for continually increasing prices, though up to 1857 
her highest figure was $10. But in 1859 the Atlantic, 
the goal of all ambitious New England writers, paid her 
$50 for a story, and the next year, which she labeled 
in her journal "A Year of Good Luck," her prices 
soared to $75 and $100, and her literary earnings for 
the year were $600. After getting a $100 fee unex- 
pectedly she wrote in her journal, "I went to bed a 
happy millionaire to dream of flannel petticoats for 
my blessed mother, paper for father, a new dress for 
May and sleds for my boys." 



LOUISA MAY ALCOTT 365 

Then came the storm of civil war, and Louisa went 
into the hospitals at Washington as an army nurse. 
"I like the stir in the air/' she writes, "and long for 
battle like a war horse when he smells powder. " Her 
experiences she welded into a book, "Hospital Sketches/' 
which was eagerly bought by a public hungry for 
everything about the war. It brought her only $200, 
but gave her a reputation and a public. Publishers 
wrote for manuscript and in response she sent out the 
manuscript of a book, " Moods," she had written four 
years before and laid away. "Genius burned so 
fiercely," she says, speaking of the composition of this 
work, "that for four weeks I wrote all day and planned 
all night, being quite possessed by my work. ' ' The book 
was a success and widened her public. The money it 
brought justified her taking a vacation, and she went 
abroad for a year as companion to a literary lady. 

On her return fortune smiled. She had become a 
regular contributor to the Atlantic , and was made 
editor of Merry 1 s Magazine at $500 a year. But, above 
all, the great opportunity knocked at her door in the 
request of Roberts Brothers for a book for girls. Her 
response was "Little Women," which was instantane- 
ously successful. "The first golden egg of the ugly 
duckling," she called it, for out of it she made her 
fortune. The story was veiled autobiography; the 
characters were her sisters and her playmates. She 
herself was "Jo." "We really lived most of it," she 
said, "and if it succeeds that will be the reason of it." 

After this victory she went abroad again. No 
invalid to care for went along this time but her artist 
sister May, and the twain spent several Olympian 



366 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

months in France, Switzerland and Italy. En voyage 
she received a pleasing statement from her publisher, 
giving her credit for $6,212, but it did not lure her to 
idleness. She put the story of the trip into a chatty 
book, "Shawl Straps," which, like all she wrote, was 
successful. 

Henceforward the life of Louisa May Alcott was that 
of a hard-working and successful woman of letters. 
With passing time her responsibilities were lessened. 
Her talented sister May married abroad. Her mother, 
at the age of seventy-seven, passed away, having for 
years led the quiet, restful life that Louisa had coveted 
and earned for her. Her father's greatest ambition 
she gratified by setting up his School of Philosophy at 
Concord, where, in the open air like the peripatetic 
philosophers of Athens, he preached metaphysics. 
"He has his dream at last, and is in glory with plenty 
of talk to swim in," she wrote. 

In 1888 her gently incapable father fell ill and died 
on the 6th of March. Louisa visited him, caught a cold 
and betwixt that and her grief, passed away two days 
later. The Rev. C. A. Bartol, lifelong friend of the 
family, said tenderly as he stood at her open grave, 
"The two were so wont to be together, God saw they 
could not well live apart." 



JANE AUSTEN 

(1775-1817) 
A BKILLIANT CHK0N1CLER OF THE COMMONPLACE 

44 A ■ AHE appreciation of Jane Austen/' writes 
1 one of her eulogists, " has come to be one 
-*- of the marks of literary taste." Perhaps 
it was always so, although George IV — 
"the First Gentleman of Europe" and incidentally 
one of its greatest blackguards — was so captivated by 
her writings that he graciously invited her to dedicate 
one of her novels to him. But over against the rather 
undesirable admiration of this cock-fighting and woman- 
chasing prince we may set the tribute of really great 
critics of literature. Goldwin Smith compares her to 
Shakespeare, Her hand, he says, " could have drawn 
Dame Quickly and the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet." 

Sir Walter Scott said, with graceful and semi- 
humorous disparagement of himself, "That young lady 
has a talent for describing the involvements of feeling 
and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most 
wonderful I ever met with. The big bow-wow strain 
I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite 
touch which renders ordinary commonplace things and 
characters interesting from the truth of the description 
and the sentiment is denied to me." 

"First and foremost," said George Eliot, "let Jane 

(367) 



368 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Austen be named as the greatest artist that has ever 
written, using the term to signify the most perfect 
mastery over the means to her end. . . . Only 
cultivated minds fairly appreciate the exquisite art 
of Jane Austen." 

Seldom has so harmonious a chorus of voices of the 
great been raised in praise of an author. 

Dr. Johnson once remarked with characteristic 
vigor, "No man ever wrote except for money." This 
particular inducement did not influence Jane Austen 
in writing the series of novels which won for her a 
measure of immortality. She began writing in her 
"teens" and was so little affected by the author's 
normal eagerness to see herself in print that her first 
book lay unpublished for eleven years. Her entire 
receipts from authorship hardly exceeded $3,500, and 
for "Sense and Sensibility," one of her most successful 
books, she was paid $750. She remarked that it seemed 
a lot of money for so little trouble — the work having 
occupied about a year of her time. "Northanger 
Abbey" was sold for $50, but the publisher evidently 
repented of his bargain, for he put it away in a drawer, 
and after many years sold it back for the identical 
sum he had paid for it, By some oversight he neglected 
to charge the author interest for the use of the money 
meanwhile. 

She wrote whenever and wherever the fancy seized 
her. In the family circle of the rectory — her father was 
a clergyman of the Church of England — she would 
sit writing while those about her gossiped. Appar- 
ently her pen sped on as steadily, as little vexed by the 
chatter, as the knitting or embroidery needles. Only 



JANE AUSTEN 369 



when some guest dropped in was her work interrupted. 
It was not quite good form in English country circles 
at that time for a young woman to write. How indeed 
could she describe affairs of the heart, and even domestic 
difficulties, unless in secret she had had a long and dark 
experience of them? So in the presence of the stray 
caller a discreet sheet of blotting paper hid Jane's 
clear and regular manuscript and she joined in the 
village small talk just as if some terrible literary tragedy 
had not been interrupted on the unfinished page. 

Jane Austen was born in 1775 at St event on, seventy 
miles from London; she died in 1817. During her 
brief span of life — forty-two years — the American 
revolution was fought out and the United States 
created; the French revolution, the black nightmare 
of the terror, the glory and the downfall of Napoleon, 
all figured on the world's stage. But though she kept 
a diary, no echo of the stirring events of the great world 
appeared in it or in her letters; though she wrote 
novels, they dealt only with the tea-table life of a little 
town and with only so much of that as found its way 
into the maidenly circles of a rural rectory. 

And that was precisely Jane Austen's strength. She 
left to others "the big bow-wow," as Sir Walter Scott 
put it. Not for her the clatter of politics or the bray 
of bugles. She knew the life about her and she pictured 
that with the truthful precision of a miniature. It 
was an age when one could live almost within the 
sound of Bow Bells and yet be farther from London 
than the Chicagoan is from New York to-day. Without 
steam carriage, by rail or river travel was slow and 
arduous. It was the event of the year when the squire 

24 



370 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

went up to town. Without telegraphs, with posts few 
and expensive, with Mr. Addison's Spectator — which 
Jane primly x condemned as "coarse" — the only type 
of newspaper, 1 the dwellers in the country were out 
of the world.' 

Of a life so uneventful as hers there is little to be 
told. She might perhaps have been a literary lioness 
had she chosen to follow her novels and reputation up 1 
to London. But while she expressed pleasure on learn- 
ing that some of the great ones of the world admired 
her writings, she gently repelled efforts toward personal 
acquaintance. She declined to meet Mme. de Stael 
because that vivacious lady had expressed a desire to 
meet the author of "Pride and Prejudice" instead of 
making known her wish to know Miss Jane Austen. 
It was a little like Harriet Martineau declining to attend 
a reception given by the wife of the prime minister 
because she thought that lady was extending hospitality 
to the authoress instead of to the gentlewoman. It 
is a nice point of personal sensitiveness which celebri- 
ties every now and then raise anew. 

Perhaps Miss Austen's fame is the more secure, for 
that it does not rest on any popular pedestal. Her 
vogue is the very reverse of popular. But her public 
if small is select. It is made up of those who admire 
the handicraft of the author, fidelity to truth, rigid 
abstention from exaggeration or pathos, humor which 
stops far short of horseplay and realism which does 
not seek the abnormal for its object. 

Her death came early after a quiet life. Something 
of the esteem in which she was held by the world of 
which she knew nothing is expressed by the comment 



JANE AUSTEN 371 



of Prof. Goldwin Smith on a familiar story. "She was 
buried under a flat slab of black marble in Winchester 
Cathedral near the center of the north aisle," writes 
Prof. Smith. "The verger who showed the cathedral 
once asked a visitor to tell him 'whether there was 
anything particular about that lady, as so many persons 
had asked to see where she was buried. 5 Had he thought 
of asking the inquirers themselves he might have learned 
that much of what was most illustrious in English 
literature, and not a little of what was most illustrious 
in English statesmanship had come to pay its homage 
at that lowly tomb." 



ROSA BONHEUR 

(1822-1899) 
THE FKIEND AND PAINTEK OF ANIMALS 

IN one of the most picturesque positions in the 
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York hangs 
a picture of colossal size, recognized at once by 
every visitor as Rosa Bonheur's " Horse Fair." 
Few paintings are more widely known. Before reach- 
ing its present abode it had been exhibited for a fee 
in many of the cities of the world. The artist herself 
duplicated it no less than four times, producing copies 
of varying sizes now hanging in European galleries. 
It has, moreover, been repeatedly engraved and 
reproduced by almost every known process. There are 
few to whose minds the mention of the "Horse Fair" 
does not call up a very real and graphic picture. 

The financial history of this picture curiously par- 
allels the story of the vicissitudes of the artist — or, 
for that matter, of any other artist. Though it was 
painted after Miss Bonheur had attained fame and high 
standing among artists, it was hawked for several years 
about the galleries of Europe, returning to the artist 
with medals and ribbons, but, alas! without a pur- 
chaser. This was probably due in part to its colossal 
size, which unfitted it for any except the largest gal- 
leries. At last it was sold for 40,000 francs (about 

(372) 



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B u™ ■ ■■■■ 



aev 



ROSA BONIIEUU 
Z<Vom the painting by Dubuje 



ROSA BONHEUR 373 

$8,000). Even this does not measure the value which 
the artist put on her work. She had been about to 
sell the picture to the municipality of Bordeaux for 
12,000 francs, and holding it unfair to accept the 
40,000 offered by the actual purchaser, painted for him 
a small replica which he afterward so used as to reduce 
the cost of the large painting to something like $3,000. 
Its next sale was to an American for $6,000, but the 
French seller was allowed to retain the picture for exhi- 
bition purposes for two or three years — which suggests 
that the exhibition rights had decided value. Next 
it went to A. T. Stewart, then equipping that " marble 
palace" which many New Yorkers of a generation ago 
thought equal to Versailles or Windsor. The dry goods 
king's death threw his art collection on the market 
and this picture was sold for $50,000, finding a fit 
purchaser in Commodore Vanderbilt, whose love for 
horses was almost as passionate as that of Rosa Bonheur 
herself. The commodore presented it to the Metro- 
politan Museum, where it will rest as secure in its place 
as its creator is in her fame. 

The story of this painting, which, after bringing 
$3,000 or thereabouts to its creator, found its final 
purchaser at a price of $50,000, expresses in the vulgar 
language of dollars and cents something of the life of 
the artist. Dying a chevalier of the Legion of Honor 
of France, surrounded by medals and trophies won by 
the skill of her brush, possessed of a sufficient fortune, 
which would have been a great one but for her boundless 
charities, Rosa Bonheur grew up in a garret and was 
apprenticed to a seamstress that she might learn to 
earn the living which her father's circumstances could 



374 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

not guarantee her. Yet the father was himself a painter 
of merit, but he had fallen on evil times and was com- 
pelled to make a slender livelihood giving drawing les- 
sons at Bordeaux, where on the 16th of March, 1822, 
Rosa was born — the eldest of four children. Her 
childhood was chiefly notable for an intense aversion 
to school — not an unusual trait — and an even more 
passionate devotion to nature and particularly to animal 
nature. In her tenderest years she spent in her father's 
studio all the time she could not be outdoors, and there 
tried to model in clay and to draw. Artist though 
he was, Raymond Bonheur, the father, was slow to 
discern signs of promise in these childish efforts and 
Rosa was well into her twelfth year when her pertinacity 
forced it upon his attention that she was not the ordi- 
nary jeune fille, and that the project of making out of 
her a seamstress was merely criminal. 

Amazed at his discovery, the father set about trans- 
forming his ugly duckling into a swan. Henceforward 
his life was devoted to developing and directing the 
talent he had been so slow to recognize. 

In her seventeenth year Rosa was working busily and 
contentedly at copying without having chosen, or 
thought of choosing, any particular specialty. Land- 
scape, classical and genre painting all engaged her 
attention. But the story goes that having one day made 
a striking study of that most unromantic animal, a 
goat, all her old devotion to animal nature came over 
her with a rush. She determined to drop copying 
at once and go direct to nature for her subjects. Daily 
she plodded out into the country, sketching views and 
animals. Sometimes with canvas and colors, at others 



ROSA BONHEUR 375 

with a lump of clay, for she loved modeling, she set 
out early in the morning, returning at night tired and 
often muddy and wet, but rejoicing in a day of hard 
study. 

But within walking distance of a great city the beasts 
of the field are not so easy to find. Rosa thereupon 
adopted an expedient which it would seem must have 
been trying to an artistic temperament. She began 
to haunt the abattoirs of Paris — the stock yards and 
the slaughter houses of the city. There she would 
spend the day painting the cattle, sheep and swine, 
not merely in the crowded pens where they dumbly 
awaited an unknown fate, but in the shambles them- 
selves that she might note their attitudes under the 
agony and terror of the final stroke. Nor did she neglect 
the arduous study of anatomy by dissections and from 
charts. u You must know what's under their skins," 
she would say, " otherwise it will be a mat rather than 
a tiger." 

From this she turned to visiting the stables of the 
city and the fairs held in its neighborhood. It was in 
the course of this work that she came to adopt the 
masculine costume for the freedom and protection it 
gave. But it was not without its embarrassments 
when some horse dealer, flattered by her pictures of his 
animals, would insist on sharing a bottle of wine or 
something stronger with her, or some maid in a village 
inn opened a hopeful flirtation with the pink-cheeked 
boy, who talked so quietly and painted so well. 

With such hard and practical work it is not remark- 
able that Rosa Bonheur's talents ripened early. She 
was but nineteen when in 1841 she made a hit with 



376 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

two paintings in the fine arts exhibition of that year* 
Thereafter she exhibited continually, winning in 
1849 the gold medal of the Salon, with her picture 
"Cantal Oxen/' which admitted her to the first rank of 
French painters, her position being still further but- 
tressed by the triumph of her "Horse Fair" in 1853. 
The latter by all precedents governing the relations 
between French art and the government should have 
secured for her the Legion of Honor. This, however, 
was twice refused her by the emperor on the ground 
that she was a woman. Years afterward this gross 
injustice was repaired by Empress Eugenie, who drove 
to her home and personally decorated her with the 
coveted red ribbon. 

Her death came suddenly. As her nephew, Hyppolite 
Peyrol, put it: "Her life was quietly extinguished like 
a lamp without oil." Though a nation mourned her 
there were no more sincere mourners than her dogs 
when her body was borne through the courtyard where 
they were gathered. Their evident distress would 
have pleased the dead mistress, who was fond of saying, 
"the canine race is more humane than inhuman 
humans." 

Sentiment had little part in the life of this world 
famous woman. "Nobody ever fell in love with me," 
she said. "Nor have I ever truly loved." A pretty 
story, however, tells of a workman to whom she had 
rendered some service, and who spent his surplus 
earnings thereafter in buying engravings of her pictures 
and photographs of herself until his room resembled 
a museum. "I am an earthworm," said he, "in love 
with a star." 



ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING 

(1809-1861) 
A POET AND A POET'S BKIDE 

Do you hear the children weeping, O my brothers, 

Ere the sorrow comes with years? 
They are leaning their young heads against their mothers, 

And that cannot stop their tears. 
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows, 

The young birds are chirping in the nest; 
The young fawns are playing with the shadows, 

The young flowers are blowing toward the west 
But the young, young children, O my brothers! 

They are weeping bitterly. 
They are weeping in the playtime of the others 

In the country of the free. 

SELDOM, perhaps, has the world been given a 
more impressive example of a great mind in a 
fragile body, a soul which rose superior to all 
that sought to cabin and confine it, than that 
offered by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. A poet whose 
most exquisite thoughts were those of love and aspira- 
tion, she could nevertheless sound the trumpet blast 
of assault upon vested wrongs as in the stanza di- 
rected against child labor, with which this article is 
headed. A frail woman, condemned by her father 
and her physicians to lif e-long invalidism, she had yet 
the courage to run away with the man of her choice 

(377) 



378 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

and the physique to bear a son. Long as in youth 
she wavered between life and death, and spent her 
maidenhood in almost cloistered solitude, she blossomed 
out at last in intellectual and wifely triumph. E. C. 
Stedman, best and kindliest of American literary critics, 
put the substance of her life into this poetic simile: 

"She was like the insect that weaves itself a shroud, 
yet by some inward force, after a season, is impelled 
to break through its covering and come out a winged 
tiger moth, emblem of spirituality in its birth and of 
passion in the splendor of its tawdry dyes." 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was born in 1809, her 
father being a wealthy West Indian merchant of Eng- 
land. As a child she was singularly precocious, not 
merely in her early passion for rhyming, for nearly 
all children brought up in a bookish atmosphere have 
that, but in her taste for studies of the sort that com- 
pel hard work. She mastered Greek early in life, and 
in later years tells of reading "the Greek Bible from 
Genesis to Malachi and not being stopped by the 
Chaldee." Not unnaturally this hectic activity of 
mind was attended by a lassitude of body. Always 
she was frail, and her fragility was increased when 
being in residence at the English resort, Torquay, for 
ixer health, she saw her adored brother drowned be- 
fore her eyes. Then for long years she lived, as Miss 
Mitford tells us, "confined to one large and com- 
modious, but darkened chamber, admitting only her 
own affectionate family and a few devoted friends; 
reading almost every book worth reading, in almost 
every language, and giving herself heart and soul to 
that poetry of which she seemed born to be the 
priestess." 



ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING 379 

Into the solitude of the darkened room, however, 
entered Cupid — under the circumstances a most un- 
expected guest. The god of poetry invited the winged 
god of love, for some verses of Miss Barrett's attracted 
the attention of Robert Browning, six years younger 
than she, but already one of the great poets of Eng- 
land. He sought her out, and on his first visit, in the 
presence of her nurse, poured out his tale of love. 
He was promptly and naturally refused — "with all 
my will, but much against my heart/' as she afterward 
wrote. But going away he renewed his entreaties by 
letter. It was long before any encouragement was 
given him. The woman he sought knew the physical 
frailty from which she suffered and hesitated to shackle 
the strength and abridge the liberty of her hero with 
an ailing wife. This hesitation she has chronicled 
with but slight concealment in her " Sonnets from the 
Portuguese." Browning's ardor overcame this im- 
pediment only to be confronted with another. Mr. 
Barrett, though in most respects a kind and indulgent 
father, was firm in his conviction that none of his three 
daughters should marry. Elizabeth Barrett was well 
aware of this belief of her father's and for a long time 
the wooing of her accepted lover had to be done by 
post lest the obdurate parent discover it. One result 
of this was a series of love letters, poetic it is true in 
diction, but so intimate and fervid in expression that 
the taste of the son in permitting their later publica- 
tion was seriously criticized. 

In 1846 the two poets were secretly married in the 
parish church of St. Marylebone. For a week the 
bride remained in her father's house, nursing her 



380 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

secret; then taking her maid and a pet dog (even 
poets have their eccentricities) she joined her husband, 
and they set out for the continent. Never again did 
she enter her girlhood home; never again see the father 
who had been indulgent and loving until the moment 
when she stood with all her womanhood against his 
selfish whim. He was as good — or rather as bad — 
as his word, and never forgave her. Though she wrote 
letters stained with tears beseeching forgiveness, they 
were never answered, and in time were returned to her 
unopened. 

Jt is pleasant to record that the love of the hus- 
band, for whom she had given up her home, never 
burned less, and that their lives together form one 
of the idyls of married life. 

Happily Robert Browning had a competence of his 
own. Though in the end his writings and those of 
his wife turned that competence into a large fortune, 
the young couple might have starved while awaiting 
the belated financial returns of poesy. Meantime 
seeking a mild climate and places where folks of their 
slender means might live, they sought out Italy and 
left their imprint upon Florence, Pisa, Siena, Venice 
and Rome. It was at Pisa that their son was born, 
and in Venice the gondoliers still point out to you 
on the Grand Canal the home he occupied after his 
parents' death. But Florence, the home of art, poetry 
and history, was their abiding home. There Mrs. 
Browning wrote most of the "Sonnets from the 
Portuguese," which her husband did not see until 
long after at Pisa, when he insisted on their publica- 
tion. "I dared not," he said, "reserve to myself the 



ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING 381 

finest sonnets written since Shakespeare's." This 
burst of husbandly enthusiasm may be pardoned even 
though we remember Keats and Wordsworth. 

The long list of Mrs. Browning's poems need not be 
recounted here. Those by which she attained her 
highest standing as a poet are " Sonnets from the 
Portuguese" and "Casa Guidi Windows." About 
"Aurora Leigh," a novel in verse, critics differ yet. 
In its time it had a vogue like that Owen Meredith's 
" Lucille" won later. 

So long did the Brownings live in Florence and so 
earnestly did both with their pens labor for that unity 
of Italy which has since become a fact, that the Flor- 
entines placed a tablet to her memory above the door 
of the house they occupied. Near the Pitti Palace, 
whither all tourists turn their steps, you will find her 
"Casa Guidi," and above its door this inscription in 
Italian: 

"Here wrote and died Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 
who to the heart of a woman joined the science of a 
scholar and the spirit of a teacher, and who made, 
with her golden verse, a nuptial ring between Italy 
and England. Grateful Florence places this memorial." 

It was there in "Casa Guidi," where her happiest 
hoin:s had been lived, that Elizabeth Barrett Brown- 
ing died. The vision of the poet was with her to the 
last, and, dying, she seemed to gaze upon some scene 
of heavenly glory. So, gazing, she cried aloud, "It 
is beautiful," and thus passed away. 



MARY ANN EVANS 

(1819-1880) 

" GEORGE ELIOT," ENGLAND'S MOST FAMOUS WOMAN 

NOVELIST 

RARELY has a great novelist developed so 
tardily as George Eliot. Ordinarily the 
•*■ imaginative faculty, like the poetic aspiration, 
is a gift of nature. Great novelists, like great 
poets, as a rule, are born, not made. But at thirty- 
five years of age this one was translating Spinoza's 
"Tractatus Theologico Politicus" and believing that 
in that sort of grubbing lay her life's work. Two 
years later all England was reading "Amos Barton" 
and other stories from the "Scenes from Clerical Life" 
and wondering who was hiding behind the pseudonym' 
"George Eliot." It is curious that among all who 
entered this literary guessing contest Charles Dickens 
was the only one who tenaciously insisted that the 
writer must be a woman. 

Mary Ann Evans — she ultimately combined the 
first two names into "Marian" — was born in War- 
wickshire, England, of parents in comfortable circum- 
stances. Her father was agent for a large estate and 
many of the scenes and characters in her novels were 
drawn from the places and playfellows of her youth. 
Particularly to her early environment was due her 

(382) 




GEOIMIE EU<>T 
From the painting by Frederick Burton, A utiviutl Bortnul Hath nj 



MARY ANN EVANS 383 

accurate knowledge of the character, habits and dialect 
of the English peasant. Her parent's means were 
sufficient to secure for her a thorough education, 
particularly in modern languages, which she supple- 
mented by omnivorous reading. 

The first literary work of Miss Evans was the trans- 
lation into English of the "Life of Christ/ 7 by David 
Strauss. This task took three years and we are in- 
formed that it was "a remarkable success." As we 
further learn that for the work she received $100 and 
twenty-five copies of the book, we are moved to 
wonder at the elastic meaning of that word "success." 
For nearly five years she seems to have done no literary 
work, but in 1851 she was invited to become assistant 
editor of the Westminster Review. Though she wrote 
but little for the Review, her work being editorial 
chiefly, she was brought into contact with the most 
eminent literary figures of the day. One article of 
hers on women novelists is readable to-day. It pre- 
dicted great success for women writers of fiction, 
though at the moment she could hardly have dreamed 
that she herself would be one of the most successful; 
and she declared that while women might excel in 
the little domestic lovelorn and pathetic novels, they 
were "unequal to such an effort of imaginative history 
as 'Ivanhoe 7 or 'Old Mortality.' " The latter judgment 
falls rather flat in view of her own magnificent his- 
torical presentment of the life of Florence in "Romola." 

Shelley says that men 

"Are cradled into poetry by wrong; 
They learn in suffering what they teach in song." 



384 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Marian Evans had to learn romance to write ro- 
mance. The divine fire of love came to her in the 
person of George Henry Lewes, an editor, critic and 
literary worker of high intellect and wide culture. 
But he was already married. Because of his wife's 
notorious misconduct he had long ceased to live with 
her, but the English law of that time made divorce 
possible only to people of large means. For a time 
the clash between man-made morals and an affection 
which later proved to be as pure and stimulating as 
the world ever knew seemed irrepressible. In the end 
the pair quietly ended the difficulty by pronouncing 
vows to each other and holding themselves as truly 
married as though by a canon of the church. 

Whatever moralists may say of the affair, it is the 
fact that but for this association the world would 
probably never have known the George Eliot novels. 
It was Lewes who first suggested to her that she try 
her hand at fiction, and stood by with cheer, sugges- 
tion and friendly criticism when, reluctantly and full 
of doubt, she made the effort. 

Her first book was "Amos Barton," which Mr. 
Lewes sent to the Blackwood house as an anonymous 
publication, one of a series yet to be written. Black- 
wood promptly recognized it as a masterpiece. Thack- 
eray and Dickens applauded it warmly, and the suc- 
cess it made was maintained by the others in the 
series, "Scenes from Clerical Life." By this time 
Blackwood, though still ignorant of the identity of 
his author, was clamorous for a long novel. She 
responded with "Adam Bede." Her earlier stories 
had appeared in magazines before book publication, 



MARY ANN EVANS 385 

but this time she wished to go straight to the public 
with the regulation three-volume edition. The pub- 
lisher demurred; but finally yielded. The novel was 
an instant success. Blackwood had agreed to pay 
$4,000 for the book, but its sales were so great that 
he actually paid $8,000. For "The Mill on the Floss 5 ' 
which followed, he paid $10,000, and a like amount 
for " Silas Marner." For her last book, "Daniel 
Deronda," George Smith, the publisher, offered $100,- 
000, but she preferred serial publication first, saying 
a serious book was better judged by readers who 
obtained it in the leisurely month by month publica- 
tion in a magazine. Accordingly she sold him the 
book rights alone for $35,000. Besides these sums, 
Harper & Bros, paid for the American rights, in ac- 
cordance with their honorable practice, though there 
was then no international copyright, the following 
amounts: "Mill on the Floss," $1,500; "Middle- 
march/' $6,000; Daniel Deronda, $8,500. In all, 
her literary earnings for twenty years approximated 
$150,000 — a considerable growth from the $100 paid 
for the translation of Strauss, which occupied three 
years. Her effort to remain unknown was frustrated 
by a pious fraud, the Rev. William Liggins, who, when 
the George Eliot novels became widely popular, pro- 
claimed himself the author. So cleverly did he sup- 
port his claim and so plausible was his evidence that he 
was gaining wide fame and social honors when the 
true author saw fit to divulge her identity. The in- 
telligence was a bit of a shock to her publisher. "I 
called her 'Dear George,' " said he later in speaking 
of his correspondence with his unknown author, "and 

25 



386 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

employed some expressions such as a man only uses 
to a man* After I knew her I was a little anxious to 
remember all I might have said." 

After her first success with "Adam Bede" the lot 
of George Eliot was cast in pleasant places. Lewes 
was widely popular, an ideal host, and a man of thor- 
ough cultivation. When we think how much of 
George Eliot's career was due to his incentive, one 
wonders how much more he himself might have been, 
had he not concentrated his efforts on her advance- 
ment. Their home was a center for London literary 
folk — the men chiefly, of course, for the women per- 
sisted until the end in regarding Miss Evans as a 
declassee. It was an age — or a moment — of extreme 
feminine priggishness, the era when Harriet Martineau 
declined an invitation to be the guest of honor at the 
Prime Minister's because his wife had not called on 
her "as a lady." 

In 1878 Lewes died. Little more than a year after, 
the brilliant woman, who had so long lived as his 
wife, amazed her friends by marrying, at the age of 
sixty-one, a gentleman named Cross, several years 
her junior. Though in no sense literary Mr. Cross 
sympathized sincerely with his wife's tastes, and after 
a long stay in Venice they returned to London and 
began again the Sunday afternoon receptions in which 
she delighted. This happiness, however, she was not 
destined to enjoy long, for in December of 1880 she 
died after a brief illness. 



MARGARET FULLER 

(1810-1850) 
AN INSPIRED CONVERSATIONALIST 

TO win national fame and even a certain measure 
of immortality merely by brilliant conversa- 
tion is a triumph granted to but few — and 
those few chiefly women. One of these was 
Margaret Fuller, whose name is known in every cul- 
tivated household in America, but whose books repose 
dusty and forgotten on the shelves. I doubt whether 
one could be procured in any book store, other than 
those which make a feature of antiquarian literature. 
Yet Margaret was the friend and intellectual companion 
of Emerson, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Long- 
fellow and Hawthorne. Probably it was largely to her 
association with this Olympian company, to which 
may be added such lesser lights as James Freeman 
Clarke, Horace Greeley, George William Curtis and 
William Henry Channing, that she owes her measure of 
fame. A man is known by the company he keeps, and 
Margaret's company was so distinctly literary that 
when a famous Boston publishing house planned a series 
of biographies of "American Men of Letters," the name 
of Margaret Fuller, with a fine disregard of sex, appeared 
early in the list of volumes. Besides, Hawthorne saw 

(387) 



388 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

fit to draw from her the character of Zenobia in his 
"Blithedale Romance." 

Margaret Fuller was born in Cambridge in 1810. 
Her family were typical Bostonians. Her father, a 
"Jeffersonian Democrat," was a devoted adherent of 
John Quincy Adams, and represented the Middlesex 
district in Congress for one term. For the rest he was 
a moderately prosperous lawyer with what was then 
considered a gentleman's taste for the classics — a taste 
which has disappeared before golf and the magazines. 
Accordingly he set Margaret to studying Latin at six, 
permitting as light reading Shakespeare, Cervantes and 
MoliSre. Some portions of Shakespeare were held to 
be frivolous and Margaret records having been sent to 
bed in disgrace when detected in reading "Romeo and 
Juliet" on Sunday. In later years, writing of this 
severe intellectual regimen for a child not yet ten 
years old, Margaret said, "I certainly do not wish that 
instead of these masters I had read baby books, written 
down to children, but I certainly do wish that I had 
read no books at all till later — that I had lived with 
toys and played in the open air." 

Naturally precocious and forced by this hothouse 
training, Margaret had a miserable time when she left 
the home tutelage and went to school. She was intel- 
lectually in advance of her playmates and socially far 
behind those with whom she recited. "My book life 
and lonely habits had given a cold aloofness to my 
whole expression and veiled my manner with a hauteur 
which turned all hearts away." 

In effect Margaret had no childhood; whatsoever. 
At sixteen she was associating on terms of intellectual 



MARGARET FULLER 389 

equality with that group of New England writers who 
still stand for all that is best in our national literature. 
From them we learn all that is worth knowing about 
her, as from her books we learn nothing. "Her pen 
is a non-conductor," said Emerson, expressing the idea 
that she was utterly unable to transmit to paper the 
brilliant ideas that continually flowed from her lips. 
Dr. Hedge, another contemporary, says of her: "She 
was always conspicuous by the brilliancy of her wit, 
which needed little provocation to break forth in exuber- 
ant sallies that drew around her a knot of listeners and 
made her the central attraction of the hour. One could 
form no adequate idea of her ability without hearing 
her converse. . . . For some reason or other she 
could never deliver herself in print as she did with her 
lips." 

And Emerson again, after she had paid him a visit, 
wrote, "I remember that she made me laugh more 
than I liked . . . She had an incredible variety of 
anecdotes, and the readiest wit to give an absurd turn 
to whatever passed; and the eyes which were so plain 
at first, soon swam with fun and drolleries and the very 
tides of joy and superabundant life." 

You may scan her writings in vain for any sign of 
that wit or humor. 

Reaching the years of womanhood, Margaret began 
the usual career of the New England spinster — she 
became a teacher. That her mental attainments were 
wide is sufficiently shown by the list of languages she 
taught. Latin and French at the school, and French, 
German and Italian to private classes were her tasks. 
She must have taught successfully, too, and not in the 



390 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

perfunctory fashion in which languages are so often 
taught to-day, for she "thought it good success when 
at the end of three months a class of beginners could 
read twenty pages of German at a lesson, and very 
well." For light reading at home she chose Homer in 
the Greek. Yet she was not oblivious to the lighter 
things of life. An anecdote is current of a visit which 
she paid in company with Ralph Waldo Emerson to 
the theatre to see a famous French danseuse. The 
ballet was not then quite a common spectacle in Bos- 
ton, and the New England conscience looked askance 
on pink fleshings. But in the midst of the pas seule 
Emerson turned to his companion: "Margaret, that 
is poetry," said he. "No, Ralph," she responded, 
"it is religion." 

In 1846 Margaret went to Europe — the fulfilment of 
a life-long desire. There she met men and women of 
genius, such as Thomas Carlyle and George Sand — 
"a long, lean, lilting old maid," the Chelsea philosopher 
called her. More important, however, she also met 
her fate in the person of the young Marquis Ossoli, 
to whom, after a romantic courtship, she was married. 
He was a Catholic, and such inheritance as he expected 
might have been lost to him had the fact of his marriage 
been known, so it was concealed even after a child had 
been born. The times were turbulent. The Italian 
revolution of 1848 was in progress, and Ossoli was a 
captain in the Civic Guard stationed in Rome. Mar- 
garet retired to a country place in the Apennines at the 
time of the birth of her child, but returned just in time 
to be caught in the siege of the Imperial City by the 
French, who were there to re-establish the authority 



MARGARET FULLER 391 

of the pope, Ossoli was on duty with his corps; Mar- 
garet worked as a nurse in the hospital. 

All the while she was gathering material for a his- 
tory of the Italian struggle for independence, and when 
the war ended in failure she repaired to Florence and 
there wrote a large part of the book. It soon became 
evident that a visit to the United States would be 
necessary to secure a publisher, and with her husband, 
child and nurse she took ship for home. 

Running into a gale off the treacherous shoals of Fire 
Island the ship became a total wreck and all the passen- 
gers — the Ossolis and a brother of Senator Sumner — 
perished in the sea. The destruction of the bark was 
hastened by the fact that in its hold was carried the 
sculptor Powers' statue of John C. Calhoun, now in 
Charleston, S. C. The Ossolis had been warned that 
so heavy a bulk of marble might endanger the ship, 
but had persisted in making the voyage. 

It is probable that in no society except that of Bos- 
ton in the first half of the nineteenth century could a 
fame like that of Margaret Fuller have been builded. 
Nothing she did was permanent. Her books are for- 
gotten and the Dial, which she edited, stands only on 
the shelves of professed bibliophiles. The manuscript 
of her most ambitious work, a history of the Italian 
revolution, was lost with her in the shipwreck. Yet 
she had the utmost faith in the power of her mind and 
the solidity of her reputation. To the astonished 
Emerson she once remarked, "I now know all the peo- 
ple in America worth knowing, and I find no intellect 
comparable to my own." And yet that dazzling 
intellect has left no monument. 



CHARLOTTE BRONTE 

(1816-1855) 
THE CREATOR OF JANE EYRE 

A BLEAKER home scarce could be painted than 
the rectory of Haworth, in which Charlotte 
L Bronte, with her talented sisters Emily and 
Anne, grew to maturity, aspired, toiled and 
won each her measure of fame and died. Cresting 
a gray hill, with a gray church to one side and the 
churchyard with gray tombstones on the other, its 
front windows looked down upon a little gray village, 
while on every side the moor rolled away to the horizon 
on gray billows dotted here and there with gray patches 
that told of the grazing sheep. The thought of this 
broad, free moor and upland was ever with Charlotte, 
and in her pages one breathes; 

" . . . the breath of the moors fresh blown 
O'er leagues of clover and cold gray stone." 

In this bleak house abode for a time six children, 
scions of an Irish rector whom it would be the part 
of charity to call eccentric. Their mother died early; 
the father, a man of moods, and wholly self-centered, 
gave but little thought to the youngsters and what 
he gave was scarce stimulating. Having all his own 
meals served in the privacy of his study, he imposed 

(392) 



CHARLOTTE BRONTE 393 

upon them the strictest vegetarianism, potatoes and 
porridge being the extent of their feasts. Simplicity 
in dress he also enforced by such drastic measures as 
throwing out of the window a pair of bright-colored 
shoes, the gift of a neighbor, or tearing an offending 
silk dress to shreds and thrusting it into the fire. 

However, the children loved him, and it is not for 
a mere observer of their household life to condemn. 
Certain it is, however, that something about his 
paternal methods was fatal. Two of the five girls 
died early, fairly starved and chilled into consumption 
at a cheap school to which their father had sent them, 
and which, to judge from their brief references to it, 
must have resembled somewhat the famous — or 
infamous— Dotheboys Hall. The home circles then 
consisted of Charlotte, Anne, Emily and the brother, 
Branwell, a bright lad of whom much was expected, 
but upon whom fate descended with a heavy hand 
and who, after a life of dissipation somewhat due to a 
disgraceful and miserable love affair, died as the 
result of delirium. Curiously enough, on the day of 
his death his mind was normal, his conduct calm. 
Conscious that a weak will had led to the waste of his 
life, he insisted on showing his final will power by 
dying standing, and he did thus face death on his 
feet, his blind father praying in a corner, his sisters 
weeping and imploring him to return to his bed. 

Of the three girls, all were unusual, all perhaps 
touched with genius, though whence it came or how it 
was nurtured cannot be discovered by a study of the 
crotchetty father or the narrow horizon that bounded 
their youth. All wrote and well. Emily's novel> 



394 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

"Wuthering Heights/ ' has a terror and an unfolding 
of passion that keep it alive to-day. Anne's novel, 
"Agnes Grey/' was successful at the moment, but 
possessed less of permanent power than the writings 
of the other sisters. 

It is, however, with the most notable of the three 
sisters, Charlotte, that this sketch has chiefly to do. 
Older than the other two, she had shared with them the 
chill gray life of the Haworth vicarage, and with Emily 
had enjoyed a taste of school days in Brussels, whither 
the two went to fit themselves to open a girls' school 
at their home. The girls' school never materialized, 
to their pitiful disappointment. Despite ardent 
endeavors, pupils could not be lured to that lonely 
moor. But the taste of a wider life in Brussels broad- 
ened their minds and furnished the theme for Char- 
lotte's " Villette," which some esteem her best romance. 

Writing continually, the three girls kept the post 
busy with outgoing manuscripts — the publishers kept 
it equally busy bringing them back. But one day 
a much battered MS., "The Professor," by Charlotte, 
which had made the rounds, came back from Messrs. 
Smith & Elder, declined again to be sure, but accom- 
panied by so kindly a letter of appreciation that she 
vowed to write a book that should not be declined. 
She outlined the plot to her sisters that very night: 

"You can't make a book successful with a homely 
heroine," said one. 

"I will," responded Charlotte emphatically, "I'll 
show you a heroine as plain and small as myself who 
shall be as interesting as any of yours." 

From that resolve proceeded "Jane Eyre," and very 



CHARLOTTE BRONTE 395 

quickly all England was reading the book and wonder- 
ing who was the "Currer Bell" who signed it. Critics 
were in the main kindly. "How well I remember/ ' 
wrote Thackeray, "the delight, wonder and pleasure 
with which I read 'Jane Eyre/ sent to me by an 
unknown author whose name and sex were then alike 
unknown to me, and how, my own work pressing 
upon me, I could not, having taken the volumes up, 
lay them down until they were read through." 

Her father, confrontedjjwith the volume, and earnestly 
assured that his daughter had not been obliged to pay 
for its publication — the sisters had shortly before paid 
$150 for the publication of a volume of verse — retired 
to his study to read it. When he emerged it was with 
this verdict: "Girls, do you know Charlotte has been 
writing a book and it is much better than likely!" 

The success of "Jane Eyre" brought Miss Bronte to 
the attention of the literary world, but her retiring 
disposition debarred her from much society. She 
called on Harriet Martineau, who remarks, "I thought 
her the smallest creature I ever saw (except at a fair) 
and her eyes blazed, as it seemed to me." Thackeray 
she met at a reception. "He is a man of very quiet 
demeanor," she wrote. "He is, however, looked 
upon with some awe and even distrust. His con- 
versation is very peculiar; too perverse to be pleasant." 
However, her social activities were few; by taste she 
preferred the quiet of Haworth. She did not feel 
with Mrs. Browning, * 

"How dreary 'tis for women to sit etill 
On winter nights by solitary fires 
And hear the nations praising them, far off." 



396 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

To her solitary fire came first death, for her two 
remaining sisters died a scant half year apart; then 
love ; for the curate of her father's parish sought her 
in marriage. The blind and selfish father would not 
for a time hear of it, but in the end consented. Happy 
she was in the new life, but the happiness was short- 
lived, for, wedded in June, she died in March. When 
one has read of the cheerless life she had led and the 
sore measure of affliction that entered into it, one reads 
with sympathy her assurance to a friend, "I find my 
husband the tenderest nurse, the kindest support, the 
best earthly comfort a woman ever had." Harriet 
Martineau summed her up as one with "the deep 
intuition of a gifted woman, the strength of a man, 
the patience of a hero and the conscience of a saint." 




HARRIET BEECHEK STOWE 



HARRIET BEECHER STOWE 

(1811-1896) 
THE LITTLE WOMAN WHO CAUSED A BIG WAR 

THE life story of the author of "Uncle Tom's 
Cabin" is one of those that carry a measure 
of consolation and of hope to the literary 
aspirant who has reached middle age devoid 
of either fame or fortune. For Mrs. Stowe was past 
forty when her trumpet blast against slavery set her 
in the front ranks of the world's army of progress and 
lifted her from a state of financial distress which at 
times narrowly approached absolute penury. 

Of her early life there is little to say. Its story is 
as short and simple as the annals of the rest of God's 
poor. But she had in it the advantages of an educa- 
tion and continual association with people of cultiva- 
tion and of intellectual activity. Her father was a 
famous preacher and theologian, a quality which in 
that New England day was quite compatible with pov- 
erty. It was a time when the chief intellectual interest 
was theological, and the nature of the little girl's edu- 
cation is somewhat indicated by a letter in which her 
sister noted that Harriet, then in her fifth year, had 
" committed to memory twenty-seven hymns and two 
long chapters from the Bible." We do not find this 
exploit mentioned in Harriet's own memoirs, but she 

(397) 



398 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

does chronicle with some glee the discovery of a copy 
of the Arabian Nights at the bottom of a barrel of 
sermons and the perpetual joy with which she pored 
over it. 

In 1832 Dr. Beecher went to Cincinnati — then the 
"far west" — to. become president of a theological 
school. His daughter accompanied him, and for a 
time taught in a school for girls, but soon fell in love 
with the Rev. Calvin E. Stowe, a professor in the theo- 
logical school. Professor Stowe was all that a husband 
should be save what the flippant call a "good pro- 
vider." His salary was $1,200, paid most irregularly; 
at one time his wife notes: "Six hundred is the very 
most we can hope to collect from our salary, once 
$1,200." But he encouraged her literary efforts as 
far as he could without giving her leisure for them, for 
children came fast and Mrs. Stowe was a devoted 
mother and housewife. Under such conditions she 
could write but little, yet what she did write was sala- 
ble and helped to prepare her for the moment when 
inspiration should break over her in such a storm as to 
carry away all other thoughts and duties. 

It was the acute period of the anti-slavery agitation. 
Cincinnati lay on the border line between the North 
and the slave-holding South. Through the city — 
through the Stowes' house, in fact — ran the "under- 
ground railroad" by which so many slaves were 
spirited away to Canada and freedom. Mrs. Stowe 
talked with many of the fugitives; she saw at first hand 
the scenes of slavery; she visited a Kentucky estate, 
afterward described in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" as "Col- 
onel Shelby's plantation;" she witnessed anti-slavery 



HARRIET BEECHER STOWE 399 

riots in Cincinnati, and saw her brother, Henry Ward 
Beecher, then a young abolitionist editor, go heavily 
armed for fear of pro-slavery violence. Her friends 
and family were all abolitionist agitators, and when 
her sister said, "Now, Hattie, if I could use the pen as 
you can, I would make this whole nation feel what an 
accursed thing slavery is," she registered a vow that 
that service she would perform. 

Sitting in church — and paying, it is feared, lax atten- 
tion to the sermon — the plan of her book flashed upon 
her. On her return to her home she sat down at once 
and wrote out the chapter on Uncle Tom's death, thus 
beginning her work curiously enough with what was 
practically its close. When she read it aloud to her 
boys, ten and twelve years old, they burst into tears, 
and one cried out, "Oh, mamma, slavery is the most 
cruel thing in the world." 

Forged at white heat, "Uncle Tom" first saw the 
light in the New Era of Washington. For this publica- 
tion the author received $300. Many other papers 
copied it and it had soon attained such a measure of 
national fame that a Boston publisher put it into book 
form and sold 300,000 copies the first year. His first 
payment on account of four months' royalties was 
$10,000, the equivalent of the joint earnings of Profes- 
sor and Mrs. Stowe for about ten years. In England, 
where no copyright protectedjthe publishers, it was 
issued by eighteen houses in editions ranging in cost 
from 6d. (12 cents) to 16s. ($4) a copy, and in twelve 
months more than a million and a half copies were 
sold. 

It was translated into nineteen languages, drama- 



400 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

tized and people are still viewing it on the stage. It 
is impossible to estimate the number of people who 
have laughed at Marks, the lawyer, and Topsy; shud- 
dered at Legree and wept with Uncle Tom and Little 
Eva. 

The author herself was dazed at its success. "I the 
author of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'?" she exclaimed. "No, 
indeed. The Lord himself wrote it, and I was the hum- 
blest of instruments in His hand. To Him alone 
should be given all the praise." 

Eulogized at home and abroad — for twice in the next 
five years she visited Europe — Mrs. Stowe now came 
to know fame and prosperity that might well blot out 
the recollection of her early privations. Presented to 
Abraham Lincoln, the tall, gaunt President looked down 
upon her quizzically and exclaimed, "Is this the little 
woman that caused the great war?" In England she 
was lionized as foreign royalty never had been. At 
Glasgow she drank tea with 2,000 people by her own 
account. At Edinburgh she was presented with a 
"national penny offering, consisting of a thousand 
gold sovereigns on a magnificent silver salver." Every 
English city had for her a new ovation. 

Returning home she settled down to creditable and 
profitable literary work. Though none of her subse- 
quent books could equal the triumph of her first, yet 
"Dred," "The Pearl of Orr's Island," and "The Min- 
ister's Wooing," formed a vital part of the literature 
of the day. When the thunderblast of civil war had 
passed by she bought an orange grove on the St. John's 
River and settled down there to a life of scholarly lei- 
sure. The coming on of old age and death, which for 
her came in 1896, she viewed with calmness. 



HARRIET BEECHER STOWE 401 

"I feel," she wrote, "like a poor woman I once read 
about: 

"'Who always was tired 

'Cause she lived in a house 
Where help wasn't hired/ 

and of whom it is related that in her dying moments 

'She folded her hands 

With her latest endeavor, 
Saying nothing, dear nothing, 
Sweet nothing for ever.' " 



26 



MADAME DUDEVANT 

(1804-1876) 



THE "GEORGE SAND ?? OF FftENCH FICTION 



ONE must put in quotation marks the name 
"George Sand," known wherever romance 
is read, and explain laboriously that the real 
name of the woman who bore it and made it 
famous was Amandine Lucile Aurore Dudevant. How 
the woman whose books enraptured the world came to 
adopt a man's name for her nom de plume may well be 
told at the very opening of this sketch of her career. 

Mme. Dudevant, separated from her husband and 
supplied by him with an .allowance of $600 a year for 
herself and two children, was living in the Latin Quarter 
of Paris and using her best endeavors to eke out that 
slender income by painting china, writing for the 
Figaro at seven francs a column, turning her hands and 
mind to anything she could do. Her first month's 
earnings in the practice of journalism amounted to $3. 
Naturally her circumstances were decidedly straitened. 
It was at this time she adopted man's clothing — not 
in any radical revolt against woman's garb, but merely 
for reasons of economy. She tells the story herself in 
her autobiography: 

"My thin boots wore out in a few days. I forgot 
to hold up my dress, and covered my petticoats with 

(402) 








GEOUGE SAM) 

F unit fin drntritHj l>tf L ( 1 <il<i nt u.thi 



MADAME DUDEVANT 403 

mud. ... I generally returned from the expedi- 
tions I took, dirty, weary and cold, whereas my young 
men acquaintances had none of these inconveniences 
to submit to. I therefore had a long gray cloth coat 
made with waistcoat and trousers to match. When the 
costume was completed by a gray felt hat and a loose 
woolen cravat no one could have guessed that I was 
not a young student in my first year." 

It was the real life of a student of the quarter she 
led in those Bohemian days following her separation 
from her husband. Among its incidents was a liaison 
with one Jules Sandeau, with whom she shared the 
authorship of two books which created little stir, but 
served her for a literary apprenticeship. The pair 
also shared the same garret in the easy-going student 
quarter of the left bank of the Seine, but this partner- 
ship was abruptly broken off when after a brief visit 
to the country she returned to find her place occupied 
by a lady following the inartistic vocation of a laundress. 

The dissolution of the literary co-partnership followed 
that of the more tender one. It is curious to consider 
the philosophy with which this was accomplished. 
The two novels written in collaboration bore the name 
of Jules Sand. When Mme. Dudevant went for her 
outing a new novel was planned to be called "Indiana" 
and which they were to write together. When she 
returned with her share finished she found that Sandeau 
had not touched pen to paper. When he read her 
chapters he declared the book to be a masterpiece, as 
did the publisher to whom it was presented. But what 
should be the name of the author? Mme. Dudevant 
was for the old partnership name, but Sandeau, though 



404 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

sadly indiscreet with his laundress, was still a man of 
honor in literary affairs. He had written none of the 
book, and would not accept even the slender fame that 
would accrue from the use of the old nom de plume. 
So, as it was St. George's Day on which this dis- 
cussion arose, the publisher suggested that George 
be substituted for Jules, and with the name of George 
Sand thus fixed upon, Mme. Dudevant conquered the 
world of letters. 

Heredity may have played some part in vesting 
George Sand with the singularly elastic code of morals 
under which she lived — for Sandeau was neither the 
first nor the last of her affinities. The bar sinister 
appeared in her ancestry, her father being the son of an 
illegitimate daughter of Marshal Saxe. But one is 
inclined rather to ascribe her vagaries to the worthless- 
ness of the husband, Casimir Dudevant, to whom 
she was married at the age of eighteen. In her earlier 
years the girl, Aurore Dupin, had lived with her grand- 
mother, who was something of a free thinker, and was 
educated by a tutor who, having been a priest in youth, 
had become a devoted follower of Rousseau. On the 
death of her grandmother, and finding life with her 
mother insupportable, she married, expecting little 
affection and finding none. Curiously enough, the 
husband, too, was of illegitimate parentage. Their 
life was miserable. His tastes were for the hunt and 
the table. He would be gone for days, chasing stags 
or shooting pheasants. On his return he would spend 
most of his time feasting with his fellow huntsmen on 
the trophies of the chase and drinking deeply. It is 
no wonder that a young wife, whose surpassing intellect 
rose above vulgar things, finally repudiated him. 



MADAME DUDEVANT 405 

Her married life ended when she was definitely 
divorced from her husband. By this time she had 
written the novel " Indiana" and had become one of 
the personages of Parisian literary society — a society 
not paralleled anywhere else, for it brought her into 
touch with Balzac, Felix Pyat, de Musset, Chopin, 
Matthew Arnold, our own American Margaret Fuller, 
Gustave Flaubert and more of the great minds of 
literature than can here be noted. 

Nothing in her early training, in her husband's 
treatment, in her struggles in the Latin Quarter, made 
for the sort of morals to which we Americans hold. 
Chopin and de Musset followed Sandeau. The tender 
care she took of Chopin in Italy when he was slowly 
dying of consumption, should surely excuse a love 
unblessed by churchly observance. 

Writing in these later days, when excuse is seldom 
made for such lapses as George Sand was guilty of, 
it is impossible to explain adequately the position she 
held in her time. The greatest folk of the moment 
forgot her Liszt, her Chopin, her de Musset. They 
recognized her mind and forgot her morals. Matthew 
Arnold, one of the finest examples of the English uni- 
versity prig, in a moment of unusual liberality, said of 
her, "Her passions and her errors have been abundantly 
talked of. She left them behind her, and men's memory 
will leave them behind also. . . . There will 
remain an admiring and ever widening report of that 
great and ingenuous soul, simple, affectionate, without 
vanity, without pedantry, human, equitable, patient, 
kind." 

Her books? They are many — too many to catalogue 



406 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

here. "Consuelo" is the chief one. "Indiana" and 
"La Comtesse de Rudolstadt" the next in order of 
interest. These are easily obtainable at any public 
library in translations and are certainly better reading 
than some of the machine-made novels of this decade. 

In her later years George Sand led a life ideal for 
the literary worker and which helped to make up for 
the vicissitudes of her youth. Venice and Florence 
knew her well, and wherever she was she wrote and 
wrote with an industry that betokened love for literary 
expression as well as the need of money to support her 
not simple tastes. In a letter to her friend Louis 
Aulbach in 1869 she wrote: "I have earned about 
a million with my writings (she refers to francs, being 
about $200,000); I have not put away a single sou. 
. . . I have always lived from day to day from the 
fruits of my labor, and that I consider as insuring the 
most happiness. I thus have no pecuniary anxiety 
and I do not fear robbers." 

June 8, 1876, George Sand died peacefully, and with 
her last hours in full accord with her favorite maxim, 
"Calme, toujours plus de calme" Her last days were 
as quiet as her early ones had been stormy. About 
her were gathered the friends she liked best — the great 
ones of the world's literature. 



MLLE. DE LA RAMEE 

(1839-1908) 
THE " OVID A" BELOVED OF SCHOOL GIRLS 

THE average reader who listlessly turns the 
pages of the professional literary critics must 
wonder if to be merely entertaining is not a 
grave crime in an author, while to write books 
of really engrossing interest, stories that grip your 
attention and hold it to the last page, is not a positive 
crime to be expiated by a period in the critical stocks. 
It is only the literary caterer who is thus harshly judged 
for recognizing that different tastes demand different 
viands. Nightingales tongues doubtless formed a very 
appetizing dish in the palace of Heliogabalus, but shall 
we scorn an extra porterhouse in a real chop house 
with sporting prints and a sanded floor? Or, to carry 
our simile to its intended conclusion, because Mrs. 
Browning was delicately poetic and George Eliot 
staidly intellectual, may we not gallop madly with 
" Bertie " or die nobly with "Cigarette" in Ouida's 
"Under Two Flags"? 

What glorious hard riding, heavy gambling, madly 
loving men were "Ouida's" moustached guardsmen, 
who would toss away a title and a career rather than 
compromise in public a woman whom in private they 
had more than compromised ! If none such ever existed 

(407) 



408 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

they should have, and we thank the more her imagi- 
nation for creating them. If not true to life, she 
believed they were; and her knowledge of guardsmen 
was not limited. Indeed, her acquaintance with the 
great soared even higher. "I am the only woman," 
she once said to Oscar Wilde, who had enquired the 
secret of her literary success, "who knows how two 
Dukes talk when they are alone." Perhaps the testi- 
mony of the Dukes might be worth while, but at any 
rate the conversations as she reported them always 
satisfied the zest of her readers for ducal dialogues. 

Mile, de la Ramee — the "de la" being perhaps her 
earliest essay in fiction, as it was lacking in her father's 
name — systematically enshrouded in mystery all details 
of her early life, and would have been equally secretive 
about her later days had it been possible. "The 
interviewer," she once remarked, "is the vilest spawn 
of the most ill-bred age that the world has ever seen." 
So out of the dimness of her past we gather only that 
she was born in St. Edmunds early in 1839, grew up 
in Paris, where she was the constant companion of 
her father, who was passionately fond of gambling. 
"Ouida" inherited this taste: her knowledge of the 
gambling hells of Paris and London is encyclopedic, 
and the gentle whirr of the roulette ball and the cry 
of the croupier eicho constantly in her pages. 

Early in the sixties Mile, de la Ramee and her 
mother went to London to live. The girl had already 
done some writing of fiction that showed quality. One 
of her earliest stories, written when she was barely 
seventeen, appeared in a "Service" magazine, and 
this fact may have led her to look to the army for 



MADAME DE LA RAMEE 409 

heroes and for readers alike. She had hardly settled 
in London before she began writing systematically, 
brilliantly and voluminously. During the sixties she 
published in rapid succession "Strathmore," "Chan- 
dos" and "Under Two Flags/' and had become both 
famous and wealthy. With her mother she lived at 
the Langham Hotel, entertaining brilliantly, among 
her literary guests being Sir Richard and Lady Bur- 
ton, Tom Taylor, of Punch, Whyte Melville and Ser- 
geant Ballantine — a highly literary company, indeed, 
but one cannot but suspect that "Ouida" preferred 
the scarlet coats of her heroes the guardsmen who 
flocked in throngs to do her honor. 

The time was favorable for "OuidaV peculiar art. 
The flood of translations of French fiction had not 
yet begun, and such books as were translated were 
expurgated to the point of inanity. She introduced 
the French method into English fiction. There was 
none quite like her in the English field, for she brought 
to her readers ideas, manners and morals — or immorals 
— which were familiar to readers of Continental liter- 
ature. She hated English fiction, wrote as unlike its 
school as possible, . and succeeded amazingly. Her 
books sold by the millions and her wealth seemed to her 
unlimited and inexhaustible. 

Unhappily those are excellent qualities which wealth 
seldom possesses, as poor "Ouida" was destined to 
learn. When her vogue was at its highest she went 
to live in Florence, where one may still hear stories 
of her ridiculous extravagance. They tell of her 
" driving daily through the streets in an orange-colored 
dress, with a black mantilla of lace, her carriage lined 



410 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

with turquoise-blue leather." It was the high noon 
of her prosperity. 

Thomas Bailey Aldrich, writing of poverty and poesy, 
said: 

"A man should live in a garret aloof, 

And have a few friends, and go poorly clad, 

With an old hat stopping a chink in the roof 
To keep the goddess constant and glad." 

Prosperity and profligacy did not agree with 
"OuidaV goddess of fiction. Critics generally agree 
that the quality of her work began to deteriorate after 
"Under Two Flags." Even her style changed. Pub- 
lished anonymously the work of the same author 
would have been detected in "Chandos" and "Under 
Two Flags," but they have few points in common 
with "In a Winter City" or "Moths." Perhaps an 
unfortunate love affair with an Italian gentleman may 
have insensibly affected her thought. She was all 
devotion, even passion. He was coldly indifferent, a 
fact which she attributed to the machinations of ene- 
mies. To throw off depression she plunged into count- 
less extravagances. She was as splendid in her follies 
as one of her own heroes. 

Never was what the French call a debacle — a smash- 
up — more complete. The brilliant woman, deserted 
by false friends — for in Florence she had fallen into 
the hands of spurious aristocrats who preyed upon her 
— was reduced to abject poverty and became the 
object of friendly contributions. In this fallen state 
she died in Italy, January 25, 1908. 



HELEN HUNT JACKSON 

(1831-1885) 

the Indian's devoted friend 

THE friend of the Indian, the author of a " Cen- 
tury of Dishonor", and a poet and novelist 
of high achievement, is not to be looked upon 
as a woman of one book. Yet after all it is 
probably as the author of "Ramona," that beautiful 
and pathetic story of the redman's wrongs, "the Uncle 
Tom's Cabin of the Indian/' that she will chiefly be 
remembered. And that doubtless is due to the essen- 
tial, nay even the literal, truth of the story. As lately 
as 1907 the kindly Catholic priest who gently led the 
author to tell the tale, and who himself figured in its 
pages as "Father Gaspard" the bearded priest, "more 
a soldier than a man of God," was laid to his long rest 
in a San Diego churchyard. 

Father Ubach had known the hapless pair whom 
Helen Hunt depicted in her romance. He had been 
confessor, comforter and counsellor to Ramona and 
Alessandro. He married them in the ancient adobe 
mission church at old San Diego, guided and aided 
them through life, and blessed the grave in which 
Alessandro was laid away, the victim of a land pirate's 
greed. Throughout Ramona's widowed life the good 
priest stood her friend, and her story, full of the wrong- 

(411) 



412 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

dping of the white oppressor and the sufferings of the 
Indian maid, he told to the white weaver of tales. 

Mrs. Jackson, always a wide traveler, had visited 
San Diego for her health when she met the priest. 
Her literary laurels were already thick and well won. 
Born in Amherst, Mass., educated at the famous school 
of the Abbott brothers in Union Square, New York, 
married happily to an army officer, Major Edward B. 
Hunt, she had thought of literature only as a study 
and a pastime until sorrow came into her life. Her hus- 
band was killed while experimenting with a submarine 
gun of his own invention. Two years later her little 
boy died, saying with his last breath, " Promise me, 
Mamma, that you will not kill yourself." Death came 
very close to her in the days of her sorrow and it was 
perhaps her turning to creative literature that some- 
what stilled her grief and saved her life. 

At thirty-four she took up painstaking literary work. 
She held it an art to be mastered — not a matter of sud- 
den inspiration. Of one book, " Outdoor Papers," by 
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, she said, "It has been 
my model for years. I go to it as a text-book, and 
have actually spent hours at a time, taking one sen- 
tence after another and experimenting upon them; 
trying to see if I could take out a word or transpose a 
clause and not destroy their perfection." Study of 
this sort gives the author f acility in handling his tools — 
words and phrases — but does not supply the elevated 
thoughts they are employed to express. These 
thoughts nature had given her. 

The poems she published over the initials U H. H." 
were eagerly looked for in humble cottages and in the 



HELEN HUNT JACKSON 413 

studies of poets and philosophers. Someone asked 
Emerson if he did not think her the first of American 
woman poets, and he answered musingly, "Perhaps 
we might as well omit the woman" She began early 
the publication of fugitive essays, and travel articles 
chiefly in the Independent She was peculiarly happy 
in descriptions of life in foreign lands, or of scenery 
and conditions in portions of our own country like 
Colorado, New Mexico and California, which in her 
day were not on the tourist route. I think that even 
in this sophisticated day, when everybody has been 
everywhere, and all-knowing magazine editors say that 
travel sketches are no longer read, any reader will be 
well repaid who gets her volume, "Glimpses of Three 
Coasts," and tastes its quality. 

To the art of the poet and the essayist she added 
that of the writer of fiction. The world will never 
know if she wrote the stories signed "Saxe Holm" 
which created so much interest in the last half of the 
nineteenth century. That is one of the best-kept 
literary secrets of the age. Claimants to the honor 
there were in plenty — one for example claiming to have 
dropped the MS. in the street and demanding of the 
editor of Scribner's that it be returned to him. He, 
however, was put to flight by the bland request that 
he write and exhibit some poetry as good as that in 
"Draxy Miller." H. H. always denied the authorship 
— if untruthf ully, no one, not even her dearest friends, 
could say why. Yet acute critics saw traces of the 
same hand in these tales and in her acknowledged 
writings like "Mercy Philbrick's Choice," "Hetty's 
Strange History" and some of her poems. Moreover, 



414 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

the title of one of the "Saxe Holm" stories, "The One- 
Legged Dancers/' appears in her "Bits of Travel." 
At any rate her denials were met with incredulity, but 
the secret is a secret still and bids fair to be one to 
eternity. 

In 1876 Mrs. Hunt married William Sharpless Jack- 
son, a gentleman of culture, and went to live at his 
home in Colorado Springs. Then she first began to 
observe the innumerable injustices and cruelties the 
nation was inflicting upon the Indians. Individual 
instances coming under her observation horrified her 
and enlisted her in a fight for justice. From a poet 
she became a crusader — not an uncommon transi- 
tion, by the way, as the one must needs possess many 
of the qualities of the other. Seeing with her eyes 
what was being done about her, she determined to 
see with the eyes of others what had been done in the 
past and in other sections. So, forsaking her beloved 
Colorado home, she immured herself in the Astor 
Library in New York and after three months of toil 
emerged with "A Century of Dishonor" — the damning 
record, of the treatment of the Indians. A copy of 
this book she sent to every member of Congress, receiv- 
ing therefor "more kicks than half -pence." 

Her literary study of the Indian question she sup- 
plemented by personal observation — visiting their 
villages, staying in their tents, attending their camp- 
fires and listening to their recountals of their suffer- 
ings. She won their confidence — no easy thing with 
the American aborigine — and in many villages they 
called her "queen". Then, at the instance of the good 
priest of San Diego, came "Ramona", The book was 



HELEN HUNT JACKSON 415 

instantly successful and years after her death was 
selling largely. Of it she said when facing death, 
"I am heartily, honestly and cheerfully ready to go. 
In fact I am glad to go. My ' Century of Dishonor' 
and 'Ramona* are the only things I have done of 
which I am glad now. They will live and they will 
bear fruit. They already have. The change in pub- 
lic feeling on the Indian question in the last three years 
is marvelous; — an Indian Rights Association in every 
large city in the land." 

She died August 8, 1885, and lies buried near the top 
of Cheyenne Mountain, four miles from Colorado 
Springs, in a spot of her own choosing, lonely as the 
grave of some chieftain of that red race she served so 
well. 



MARY LAMB 

(1764-1841) 
CHARLES LAMB'S ADORING SISTER 

FRENCH literature with its romantic loves of 
Aucassin and Nicolette, or Paul and Virginia, 
or for that matter French history with its half- 
legendary record of the joys and woes of Abe- 
lard and Heloi'se, can tell no such simple tale of pure 
and spiritual affection as that of Charles and Mary 
Lamb. Nor can the literature of any land, or the annals 
of any age, record so pleasant a tale of simple happi- 
ness, snatching from distress, and straitened means 
amounting at times to poverty, every opportunity for 
quiet pleasure and making the most of the good the 
gods allowed. As Charles Lamb put it, they were 
"determined to take what snatches of pleasure we can 
between the acts of our distressful drama, like those, 
as it has been finely said, who have just escaped from 
earthquake or shipwreck find a thing for grateful tears 
in the mere sitting quiet at home, under the well ? til 
the end of days." 

Their "distressful drama/ 7 as readers of "Elia" 
know, was the recurrent madness of the sister, which, 
hitherto unsuspected, broke forth one day at table 
when she seized a carver and thrust it into her mother's 
side, killing her instantly. Hurried to an asylum Mary 

(416) 



MARY LAMB 417 



slowly recovered her reason, and was released only 
upon her brother's promise to personally watch over 
her. The evil was recurrent. When the brother and 
sister made their holiday journeys a strait- jacket was 
always part of the provision taken, for, strangely 
enough, the outbursts of madness seemed always to 
attend some moment of especial pleasure. Happily 
the preliminary symptoms could be discerned by the 
victim, who was thus enabled to warn her brother in 
time, and friends more than once met them with stream- 
ing eyes walking across the fields to the little private 
asylum whither Mary resorted at such times. Natu- 
rally it was difficult for them to live in the country 
because of neighborhood gossip, and out of that fact 
Lamb conjured one of his wisest reflections — "we can 
nowhere be private except in the midst of a great 
city." He who best knew and loved his London was 
clearly able to discern the essential solitude of city life. 
The Temple, that green oasis, that almost cloistered 
retreat walled in by gray buildings, entered by an arch- 
way leading off the roaring Strand and Fleet Street, 
was the scene of many of the acts in the lives of the 
Lambs. There Mary was born in 1764, and there, too, 
Charles first saw the light ten years later. They were 
the children of genteel poverty — an estate only too 
well known in England and from which escape is nigh 
impossible. The story of Charles Lamb's long service 
as a clerk at India House is familiar, and the essay 
in which he tells of his strange sense of exile when, 
being retired on a pension, he no longer of a morning 
climbed his high stool and addressed himself to his 
ledger, is one of his best bits of quaint humor. 

27 



418 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

Charles was essentially a literary man. He loved 
writing for writing's sake, for the sense of creative 
ability it gave him. Not so Mary. The keen prompt- 
ings of poverty impelled her to write, and, without 
begrudging her a high order of talent, her own story 
leads us to believe that the gentle touch of her brother 
had much to do with the quality of her Shakespearian 
tales. Of these she wrote: " Charles has begun some- 
thing which will produce a little money, for it is not 
well to be very poor, which we certainly are at the 
present writing." And later, when the "Tales" had 
begun to produce revenue, she wrote in glee, "I go on 
very well and have no doubt but I shall always hit upon 
such kind of a job to keep going on. I think I shall 
get fifty pounds ($250) a year at the lowest calcula- 
tion." " 

Yet she neither "hit upon" nor sought another such 
job. The "Tales," besides bringing in some money, 
introduced Charles to the public, so that he was able 
to earn enough for their needs, and she wrote little 
more. Was this from indifference to literary work, or 
from a sisterly self-sacrifice and the wish to let her 
brother enjoy the literary distinction alone? I incline 
to believe the latter the case. Like George Henry 
Lewes, who subordinated his own literary talent to 
stimulate that of George Eliot, Mary Lamb may have 
stifled her own genius that her brother's might shine 
without rivalry in his own home. 

With added prosperity the pair moved back again 
to the Temple which they had for a time abandoned. 
Charles Lamb loved the quaint retreat. "In my best 
room," he writes, "is a choice collection of Hogarths, 



MARY LAMB 419 



an English painter of some humor. In my next best 
are some shelves containing a small but well-chosen 
library. My best room commands a court ; in which 
there are trees and a pump, the water of which is excel- 
lent cold, with brandy, and not so very insipid with- 
out." 

The accident of a cat crying behind a wainscot fur- 
nished them with more rooms and without, as Mary 
notes, the trouble of paying rent for them. For on 
tearing away the paneling of the old house four unten- 
anted, unowned rooms were discovered of which they 
gradually took possession. One of these Mary decreed 
should be the work room, and furnished it usefully 
but not sumptuously with a kitchen table and chair. 
"But ... he could do nothing in that dull, 
unfurnished room." So "my brother and I almost 
covered the walls with prints, for which purpose he 
cut out every print from every book in his old library, 
coming in every now and then to ask my leave to strip 
a fresh poor author — which he might not do, you know, 
without my permission, as I am elder sister." 

To this room came an Olympian^company on "the 
Lambs' Wednesday nights." Coleridge, Talfourd, 
Hazlitt, Godwin — all the literary crew whose names, 
have become famous. It was not all feast of reason 
and flow of soul. A participant tells of "cold roast 
lamb or boiled beef; the heaps of smoking roasted 
potatoes and the vast jug of porter, often replenished 
from the foaming pots which the best shop of Fleet 
Street supplied." For Coleridge was perhaps a small 
decanter of the juice of the poppy, for that philosopher 
shared with De Quincey the doubtful fame of an opium 



420 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

eater. The spring water cold with brandy was there 
and "Miss Lamb * . . turned now and then an 
anxious, loving eye on Charles, which was softened 
into a half-humorous resignation to the inevitable as 
he mixed his second tumbler." As for the goddess 
herself, she took snuff — and prodigiously. 

As years passied on, Mary's fits of madness became 
more frequent, so that Charles wrote sadly that their 
recurrence "might help me to sustain her death bettei 
than if we had no partial separation." But in the end 
he died before her, though they had felt that she, being 
ten years the elder and thus afflicted, would pass away 
first. To the aid of the bereaved sister, almost help-r 
less in her affliction, came hosts of friends and she was: 
tenderly cared for for thirteen lonely years, when hjt 
1841 she too passed away and her body was laid to 
rest beside that of her brother in a grassy churchyard 
of Edmonton. 



FRANCES TROLLOPE 

(1782-1863) 
WHOSE BOOK ON AMERICA ENRAGED A NATION 

BEING fifty years old, never having written a 
line for publication, but being in the American 
idiom "stone broke," it occurred to Mrs. 
Thomas Anthony Trollope, an English woman 
of good family, to recoup her fortunes by writing 
a book about the "Domestic Manners of the Ameri- 
cans." Her qualifications in the way of observation 
were that she had spent three days in New Orleans 
and rather more than two years in Cincinnati, with 
brief visits to New York and Washington, about 1830. 
By way of fitting her to be judicial and fair she had 
lost her last dollar in a "bazaar" she thought to 
establish in the Ohio city. 

The book, however, though the reflection of untrained 
literary endeavor, insufficient observation and a nat- 
ural bitterness against the land which had devoured 
the remnant of her savings, made a colossal hit. The 
British, hating us, bought it eagerly. The Ameri- 
cans, touched on the raw by her criticisms, many of 
which were wholly just, purchased it privily and 
denounced it savagely. Every cry of rage sold more 
books, and the good lady who had been counting her 
pennies now began drawing her royalties by the 

(421) 



422 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

thousands of dollars. Exultant with success, she 
embarked on a literary career, and though beginning 
at fifty years of age, departed this life with one hundred 
and fifteen volumes to her credit — all of which, save 
the one which founded her fame and her fortune, are 
forgotten. 

No candid American who will read Mrs. Trollope's 
much berated book to-day, and compare it with the 
writings of some of our own historians, notably Pro- 
fessor McMaster, will deny that the measure of truth in 
what she wrote was exceedingly large. The outcry of the 
Americans of the day must have been based on the 
abandoned doctrine "the greater the truth the greater 
the libel." Their provincialism was indeed made 
even more manifest by their supersensitiveness than by 
Mrs. Trollope's criticisms. Their defense was often 
worse than the offense. 

Mrs. Trollope had seen fit to smile at the prudery 
which led the maids and matrons of Cincinnati to 
turn their heads away from the opera stage and simu- 
late a blush when the ballet appeared. It is indeed 
an affectation of modesty most excellently cured by 
the stage of to-day, which perhaps might be better 
for some shred of it. Present-day readers of the 
North American Review, however, can hardly imagine 
even that staid periodical condemning Mrs. Trollope's 
flippancy, and denouncing the ballet first, "because 
females not lost to shame could be found to perform 
it on the stage; and second that they could find men 
and women of character to sanction the exhibition 
in the boxes." Mrs. Trollope further laughed at the 
hesitation of a too prudish miss to mention so intimate 



FRANCES TROLLOPE 423 

a garment as a shirt in masculine presence. The Review 
upholds the young lady, assuming somewhat the 
austere mood of Mr. George Sampson's prospective 
mother-in-law when that embarrassed young gentle- 
man sought to excuse his improper mention of an under 
petticoat with the plea, "After all, ma'am, you know 
we know it's there." 

Most of Mrs. Trollope's comments on the manners 
and customs of the Americans she saw were just, and 
are so admitted by Americans to-day. Her error 
lay in taking her limi ted horizon to be coincident with 
the boundaries of the nation and in accepting Cin- 
cinnati in 1830 as the most typical town, whereas it 
was really only the greatest market for hogs. The 
stately life of the planters of Virginia and of Kentucky 
she had no opportunity to see. New England, then 
the intellectual stronghold of the land, she never 
visited. 

A "reduced gentlewoman" of England, broken in 
pocket by an unhappy speculation in commerce, she 
was not at all likely to be at home in the better circles 
of New York or Philadelphia. No doubt she saw all 
she described, and for that matter we can in a later 
day see it for ourselves in some of our not wholly rural 
communities. The curious awkwardness which divides 
the sexes into two hostile camps at social gatherings 
is not unco mm on at rural "parties" to-day. Neither 
is it unknown in England, if Mr. Arnold Bennett's 
novels have truth. 

Nor are we quite purged of tobacco chewers and 
their target practice, of voracity at public tables, or 
of the overuse or misuse of the table knife. And per- 



424 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

chance there are those amongst us who will sympathize 
with her wonder expressed over long sermons on hot 
summer Sundays by preachers carried away with 
vanity and verbosity. 

But enough. Perhaps Mrs. Trollope's scolding 
did us good. Certain the clamorous retort of our press 
and]people did her good. She carried back to England 
nothing but 600 pages of a manuscript diary, but it 
proved a greater fortune than any nugget found in 
California's sands. With it she put her impractical 
husband on his financial feet once more; educated 
her son Anthony and launched him on a literary career 
more creditable than her own; and established her- 
self as a woman of letters. Her daughter-in-law writes 
of her: "She had never before earned a shilling. She 
almost immediately received a considerable sum from 
the publishers — amounting to two sums of £400 
($2,000) each — within a few months, and from that 
moment until her death, at any rate for twenty years, 
she was in receipt of a considerable sum from her 
writings." 

I have noted the fact that once fairly fallen into a 
sort of literary frenzy, Mrs. Trollope abated nothing 
of her activity until 115 volumes stood listed in her 
name on the publishers' catalogues. Such literary 
fecundity is terrifying. It suggests the need of an 
authors' trades union for the regulation of hours and 
of output. A writer in a London weekly observed at 
the time of her death: 

"The reckless production of books seems to the 
literary artist almost as immoral as the reckless pro- 
duction of children does to the sociologist. Thus the 



FRANCES TROLLOPE 425 

story of Frances Trollope and her 115 volumes per- 
petrated in twenty-four years arouses the same sen- 
sation in the reader as a newspaper report of the 
birth of triplets." 

Personally Mrs. Trollope seems to have been a 
woman of great charm. She was adored by her sons, 
and one of these sons, Anthony, the more distinguished 
one, put what we may take as the fairest estimate 
of his mother's first book thus: 

"No observer was certainly ever less qualified to 
judge of the prospect or even of the happiness of a 
young people. No one could have been worse adapted 
by nature for the task of learning whether a nation was 
in a way to thrive. Whatever she saw she judged, 
as most women do, from her own standing point. If 
a thing was ugly to her eyes, it ought to be ugly to 
all eyes. . • • What though people had plenty 
to eat and clothes to wear, if they put their feet 
upon the tables and did not reverence their betters? 
The Americans were to her rough, uncouth and vulgar 
— and she told them so. Her volumes were very bitter, 
but they were very clever and they saved the family 
from ruin," 



MARTHA WASHINGTON 

(1732-1802) 



IT is a little startling, when you stop to consider 
the fact, how few of the wives of great men in 
American history are really entitled to rank as 
famous women — that is, have attained a degree 
of fame that make well-informed people instantly 
think of them when the subject of famous women is 
mentioned. Dolly Madison is one of these, and I 
am not sure but that her fame — outside of books — 
transcends that of her husband. Few people, however, 
would grant individual fame to the wives of Thomas 
Jefferson,- Abraham Lincoln, U. S. Grant, Henry 
Clay, Daniel Webster or Andrew Jackson. Even the 
mention of the husband's name does not at once 
conjure up the image of the wife. There is no other 
such partnership so generally accepted as equal as 
that of George and Martha Washington. 

Just what she did to merit this eminence is difficult 
to tell. Given her own way, she would have lived 
quietly at Mount Vernon or some similar stately home 
of a planter, dispensing hospitality, but far removed 
from the turmoil of camps or the etiquette of courts. 
But like most of us, she was not given her own way 
and four-fifths of her life was spent in public station, 

(426) 








MARTHA WAtfUIXGTON 

From the engraving by J no. Woolasion 



MARTHA WASHINGTON 427 

for she was devoted to her husband and stayed as 
faithfully by his side through the winter of discon- 
tent at Valley Forge as later in the somewhat provin- 
cial splendors of the early presidential mansions at New 
York, Philadelphia and Washington. 

George Washington's fame as a real man instead of 
a pompous marionette was much enhanced when his 
biographers timidly admitted that he swore like a 
trooper at Gen. Charles Lee for running away from 
the British at Monmouth. It will hardly suffer from 
the further admission that, good soldier as he was, 
when he was twenty-four years old he allowed the 
charms of a pretty woman to delay him several hours 
on his mission of delivering dispatches from the seat of 
the French and Indian War to the colonial governor 
of Virginia. It does not appear that the progress of 
the war was affected by this dereliction, but young 
Col. George Washington gained thereby a young and 
beautiful wife and a large estate, while the still un- 
thought-of United States of America gained their 
nearest approach to a queen in the person of Lady 
Martha Washington. 

The woman destined to be the wife of the first 
President of the United States was born in 1732, the 
daughter of a wealthy planter. She enjoyed the rather 
limited education granted to girls in that day when 
too much learning on the part of a woman brought upon 
her the opprobrious name "bluestocking." But her 
real education came from constant association with 
cultivated people, for, provincial though it was, Vir- 
ginia in that day cultivated the social graces. Her 
early home was in Williamsburg, the colonial capital, 



428 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

the seat of William and Mary College and the scene 
of Virginia's greatest social gayety. There she married 
John Custis, a man of substance, but of twice her age. 
Four children came to them, of whom two died in 
infancy, one daughter died at Mount Vernon at the 
age of twenty, while one son passed away before York- 
town where he was serving as General Washington's 
aid. This son had married early and his children 
formed part of the family which by intermarriage linked 
George Washington and Robert E. Lee — both of whom 
in their day were bitterly denounced as rebels. 

John Custis died after seven years of married life 
and left his widow one of the richest women in colonial 
America. Two years after his death she was visiting 
the family of a Mr. Chamberlayne, whose stately 
home stood far from the residences of other planters, 
but close to a ferry on the direct road between Fred- 
ericksburg and Williamsburg. It was the hospitable 
practice of the Virginian to watch the ferry and if he 
saw a traveler alight whose looks bespoke the compan- 
ionable gentleman, he would beseech him to stop and 
refresh himself at the mansion. One day he discovered 
an officer in fatigue uniform, attended by a servant, 
who at first pleaded extreme haste as he was carrying 
dispatches. But on Mr. Chamberlayne adding to his 
urgency the plea that he had a charming young widow 
at his house, the soldier capitulated. When he pro- 
duced his card his host was delighted to find that the 
guest was Colonel Washington, who had already won 
some military fame by saving the remnants of Brad- 
dock's army after the defeat at Fort Duquesne. 

Colonel Washington found the widow no less charm- 



MARTHA WASHINGTON 429 

ing than his host had promised. Instead of riding on 
as he had intended he stayed over night and proceeded 
late the next day, only to return to the White House, 
the residence of the widow. Very speedily they were 
engaged, and after the young soldier had finished the 
campaign against the French and Indians they were 
married in 1759. 

The union of his property with that of Mrs. Custis 
made Washington one of the richest Americans. He 
was presently elected a member of the Virginia House 
of Burgesses, holding that place until the beginning of 
the Revolution, when he was chosen Commander-in- 
Chief of the patriot armies. In 1775 he took command 
under that famous old elm still standing at Cambridge, 
Mass., and a few months after Mrs. Washington joined 
him. Farewell then to that quiet life in the great Vir- 
ginia plantation houses she so loved. For her thence- 
forth the hardships of the tented field, and later the 
ceremonious life of the Executive Mansion. 

Of her life with the army Mrs. Washington has left 
few memorials. She was not the journal-writing type, 
and of her few letters preserved, most are given over to 
reflections on human life in general, rather than to 
graphic descriptions of her life in particular. But we 
get glimpses of her occasionally through the letters 
of visitors to the camp. At Morristown, where she 
nursed the General through a grave illness, she was 
something of a social queen. "Lady Washington" 
the other ladies of the town called her, and indeed her 
manner always compelled deference. Yet she was 
simple as was befitting to a soldier's wife in the field. 
When some ladies paid her a visit in their "best bibs 



430 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

and bands, and most elegant silks and ruffles," they 
found her dressed very plainly. "She received us," 
said one, "very graciously and easily; but after the 
compliments were over she resumed her knitting. 
There we were without a stitch of work and sitting in 
state; but General Washington's lady was knitting 
stockings for herself and husband." 

From that time work for the soldiers rather than fine 
clothes were the fashion in Morristown. 

In the darkest days of the Valley Forge winter 
Martha Washington was at her husband's side. Indeed, 
she once said that she always heard the first and last 
guns of every campaign. There was never a busier 
woman than she in that dismal winter. She went from 
hut to hut carrying delicacies for the sick and consola- 
tion to the dying. Her own quarters were filled day 
after day with the wives of officers knitting stockings 
and fashioning garments for the soldiers. But when 
better times came with the spring and the time of semi- 
starvation was over, she led in such gayety as the camp 
could furnish. The Washington cabin was the seat of 
as open hospitality as the case permitted and Mrs. 
Washington presided at the table with grace and good 
cheer. Entertaining was a second nature to her, and 
her husband noted later at Mount Vernon that "after 
they had been home for more than a year, for the first 
time he and Mrs. Washington dined alone." 

Mount Vernon was ever her ideal. With joy she 
returned to it when the war ended, and when her hus- 
band two years later bade farewell to his generals and 
returned to his estates she expressed fervent thank- 
fulness that the day of quiet home life had at last 
dawned for her. 



MARTHA WASHINGTON 431 

At Mount Vernon, Mrs. Washington was the typical 
housewife of the time. The great estates were then 
wholly self-supporting. The food for the table and the 
clothing for the family were in the main produced on 
the plantation. There was a great workroom in 
which slaves, directed by the mistress, worked at cut- 
ting out and sewing up the dozens of articles of clothing 
needed by the scores of hands upon the place. Every- 
thing worn by the General and Mrs. Washington, too, 
except their very best raiment, was made there. She 
herself was always knitting, and in her workroom she 
received the ladies of her acquaintance, but her needles 
clicked as the talk went on. One such guest reports 
her as inculcating the habit of industry thus: "She 
points out to me several pairs of nice colored stockings 
and gloves she had just finished, and presents me with 
a pair half done which she begs I will finish and wear 
for her sake." There is indeed lingering a tradition that 
Mrs. Washington was apt to teach little moral lessons 
in this way, and sometimes enforce her preachings with 
just a spice of temper, from which even the General 
was not exempt. As she brought him one of the largest 
estates in Virginia she may have felt justified in assert- 
ing herself. 

This period of domesticity so ardently desired lasted 
just six years— then General Washington was called 
to the presidency of the infant nation. "I little 
thought," she wrote in the stilted phrase which she 
affected, "when the war was finished that any circum- 
stances could possibly happen which could call the 
General into public life again. I had anticipated 
that from that moment we should be suffered to grow 
old together in solitude and in tranquillity." 



432 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

This savors a little of preaching. Tranquillity usually 
abode with Washington, for his disposition was calm 
and staid, but solitude was no part of his plan of life. 
He was an inveterate entertainer and his board was 
ever thronged by guests. His style of life as President 
hardly comports with that idea of simplicity to which 
every now and then our chief magistrates are besought 
to return. His servants were all in livery as gorgeous 
as that of Jeames Yellowplush. White faced with 
scarlet were the General's colors. For Mrs. Wash- 
ington was a chariot with four horses and suitable 
liveries; for himself a six-horse coach with cream- 
colored steeds and negro postilions in livery. Needless 
to say, the servitors of the champion of freedom 
were all slaves. The last six years of Washington's 
administration were passed at the new capital city, 
the site for which he had selected, and which was widely 
known as the raggedest, most squalid and muddiest 
of all capitals. 

The dignified mansion at Mount Vernon received 
the pair when Washington set the precedent for all 
time by refusing a third term in office. Their quiet 
domestic life was not of long duration, for in the third 
year of his retreat the General died. "Lady Martha," 
sat on his bed as the supreme moment arrived. 

"Is he gone?" she asked the attending physician 
as she noted a sudden change. "Then all is over! 
I shall soon follow him. I have no more trials to go 
through." 

She lived, in fact, two years longer, passing away in 
1802, and now lies buried by his side in the simple 
brick tomb on the estate of Mount Vernon they both 



MARTHA WASHINGTON 433 

loved so well. In life she was a typical American 
woman, fond of home and husband, but able to adapt 
herself alike to the military rounds of a camp or the 
ceremonials of court. She was rich without ostenta- 
tion, dignified without hauteur. Uncompromising in 
her love of country, she would not buy English fabrics 
and kept sixteen spinning wheels busy at Mount 
Vernon. She even manufactured the cloth for one of 
General Washington's inauguration suits. Under her 
management the plantation was a little principality 
producing all that those who lived upon it needed. 
The woman who could be a queen in the White House 
was a thrifty manager in her own home. 



28 



DOLLY MADISON 

(1768-1849) 
THE WHITE HOUSE HEROINE OF 1812 

OF course her name was Dorothea, but the 
world knows her as "Dolly." A typical 
Virginian, accident caused her to be born 
in North Carolina. Famous for gayety and 
splendor of dress, she was born a simple Quakeress, 
and bred religiously to the bonnet and the drab kirtle. 
Destined to be the first lady of the land, she for some 
time kept a boarding house in Philadelphia. Reduced 
to poverty because her father's Quaker faith impelled 
him to sell his slaves, she returned to wealth when 
she married James Madison, whose slaves were counted 
by scores. Marrying twice for purely practical reasons, 
she learned to love both husbands dearly; risking 
her life to caress one dying of yellow fever, and becom- 
ing the greatest aid and mainstay of the second when 
he became President of the United States. / 

With this brief summary of some of the points of 
Dolly Madison's career, let us tell in more detail of 
her life after being left a widow at twenty-four, she 
with her mother set up a boarding house in Philadel- 
phia, then the national capital, for such statesmen 
as could be lured from the grosser joys of the tavern. 
Her beauty attracted attention wherever she went. 

(434) 



OOLLY MADISON 435 

" Really, Dolly," said a discreet Quaker friend, "thee 
must hide thy face; there are so many staring at 
thee." Among the starers was James Madison, a 
substantial Virginia planter, member of Congress and 
a man of such mark in the constitutional convention 
that men called him "the Father of the Constitution." 
Among those who knew Dolly socially was Aaron Burr, 
also a member of Congress and a gentleman of charm- 
ing manners destined later to win unsavory renown. 
In Congress Burr and Madison were sworn fops, 
but love that laughs at locksmiths ignored that politi- 
cal feud and Madison procured Burr to introduce 
him to the deity. "Aaron Burr says that the great 
little Madison has asked to be brought to me this 
evening," wrote pretty Dolly all in a fluster. 

Madison was forty-three, a bachelor, scholarly but 
not slow in lovemaking. News of his suit came to 
the ears of Lady Martha Washington, who sent for 
the Widow Todd. 

"Dolly, is it true," she asked, "that you are engaged 
to James Madison?" 

"I — I think so," answered Dolly with becoming 
hesitation. 

"If it be so do not be ashamed of it. We both 
approve. He will make thee a good husband and be 
the better for being so much the older." 

With this approval from royalty, the courtship pro- 
gressed apace and a scant year after her first husband's 
death Dolly was again a bride. An end then to all 
Quaker simplicity. Mr. Madison wanted her to shine 
in society and she, nothing loath, became gayest of 
the gay. At the presidential mansion in the later 



436 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

years of Washington's administration she was the 
favored guest. But his rejection of a third term sent 
her back to retirement at her husband's noble estate 
of Montpelier in Virginia, for John Adams, the next 
President, was too sturdy a Federalist to have the 
Republican Madison about his councils. 

The retirement was scarce long enough to teach her 
the pleasures of a great Virginia estate. Thomas 
Jefferson was elected President and Madison recalled 
as secretary of state. The President's wife was dead; 
his daughters married and living far away. He made 
the charming Dolly, now approaching her fortieth 
year, mistress of the White House. Such gayety as 
she could arouse in Washington — a straggling village, 
with a lane of mud connecting the capital and the 
White House, a capital where people lived and enter- 
tained in taverns, and cattle and swine roamed the 
streets — such gayety as could be aroused in such a 
town she evoked. The President was devoted to her, 
too much so at times, for he once took her in to a 
state dinner and seated her at his right hand, while 
the wife of the British minister, to whom those honors 
were due, bridled with rage at the snub. Poor lady! 
Perhaps she lived to find consolation when during the 
War of 1812 the British drove Dolly in flight from that 
very White House and devoured with complacency a 
dinner of forty covers she had prepared for other 
diners altogether. 

Madison succeeded Jefferson in the presidency. 
His wife continued her social triumphs. She had the 
knack not merely of making people seem at ease, but 
of leading them to put forth the best that was in them, 



DOLLY MADISON 437 

so that at her parties folk scintillated who elsewhere 
were bores. Without the dignity of Martha Wash- 
ington or the intellect of Mrs. Adams, she had enough 
of the one to maintain her position and of the other 
to be a true help to her husband. She said she was 
no politician, but of her James G. Blaine wrote: "She 
saved the administration of her husband; held him 
back from the extremes of Jeffersonism, and enabled 
him to escape the terrible dilemma of the War of 1812. 
But for her De Witt Clinton would have been Presi- 
dent in 1812." 

During that war the American people suffered the 
ignominy of having a foreign invader in their capital — 
and the British generals incurred the infamy of wan- 
tonly burning an enemy's unfortified city. There was 
practically no defense of Washington when the British 
marched upon it. Such feeble resistance as there was 
was at Bladensburg and thither President Madison 
went in person while Mrs. Madison remained in the 
White House, preparing that dinner of forty covers, 
and packing up in case of need. The need came. 
With a carriage load of cabinet papers and all the 
White House silver she departed, knocking off with an 
axe the frame about Stuart's portrait of Washington 
and taking that along. "I longed rather," said she 
with spirit, "to have a cannon at every window of 
the White House." 

In time the British retired. In further time the war 
was ended by the treaty of Ghent, not knowing of 
which Andrew Jackson prodigiously slaughtered the 
British at New Orleans when peace should have abode 
with them. The President and his family returned 



438 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

to Washington and made their home within sight of 
the smoking walls of the White House in a structure 
known as "the Octagon House" which still stands. 
There the treaty of peace was signed, and there was 
held a great reception in honor of the event. Observed 
of all observers was Mrs. Madison, who circulated 
among the brilliant uniforms and gay dresses, as 
blithe and debonair as though she had never been 
driven from the White House and refused admission 
to a tavern because she was wife to "Jimmy Madison 
who brought on this damnable war." "Mrs. Madison 
was every inch a queen," said the new British minister. 
Followed then a time of pleasant retirement at Mont- 
pehe^, then the death of her husband and new sorrow 
brought upon her widowhood by her son, Payne Todd, 
who gambled away his own fortune and the greater 
part of hers. In her later days Montpelier was lost 
to her and she lived in a house fronting on Lafayette 
Park in Washington, now occupied by the Cosmos 
Club. A sum of $20,000, paid by Congress for her 
husband's manuscripts and tied up so that her son 
could not get it, furnished her means of life. In her 
old age she was described as supremely lovely, with a 
complexion as fresh and fair as that of an English 
girl. Folk went from the White House to her home, 
as from the palace of a reigning monarch to that of the 
dowager queen. Her last public appearance was on the 
arm of President Polk at a White House reception, 
and she who had trod those halls on the arm of Jeffer- 
son then passed out of them forever. 




JOAN OF ARC 

From lite pointing hy Ingres 



JOAN OF ARC 

(1412-1431) 
SEEK, SOLDIER, LEADER OF MEN, MARTYR 

IN a little farm-yard hard by the village of Dom- 
remy, in Lorraine, a peasant maid of some sixteen 
years was wont to sit and sew or knit on pleasant 
afternoons when she was not out in the meadows 
herding the sheep. Not unlike her fellows was 
this petite bergerette, this little shepherdess. Blue- 
skirted, bare-legged, shod with great wooden shoes, 
she was just a little French villager. Like her fellows, 
she was fair, straight-limbed, hardy as a boy. Unlike 
them, she had the two gifts of imagination and faith — 
and who has these gifts may go far. 

The time was one of peril to France — or rather to 
the warring factions into which France had been 
broken. Charles VII should have been king, but 
was so hard pressed by foes that he could not enter 
Rheims to be anointed with the holy oil of consecra- 
tion as had been the custom of centuries. The troops 
of Henry V of England were on French soil, and in 
their project to make Henry VI, then a boyish Eng- 
lish prince, king of France, had the aid of powerful 
Frenchmen such as the Duke of Burgundy. His 
soldiers sometimes would sweep through quiet little 
Domremy frightening the peaceful peasants and rifling 

(439) 



440 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

their homes. In the quiet of her garden the girl, 
Jeanne, the villagers called her, sometimes Jeanne 
d'Arc, for her father Jacques had come from Arc, a 
neighboring hamlet, would sit and think over the 
disordered state of France that set loose these swash- 
buckling soldiers on peaceful folk. She could not 
read nor write, could Jeanne (or Joan, as we of the 
English tongue call her), but she could imagine the 
young king kept out of his coronation city, and the 
invading British making ready to divide France up 
among themselves. 

One day as she sat among the flowers, with the 
buzzing of the bees and the soft tones of the distant 
church bells in the air, there seemed to her to be a 
great shining light in the air, bright as the summer 
afternoon already was. And out of the light spake 
a voice saying, " Jeanne, sois bonne et sage enfant: 
va souvent d Veglise" — "Joan, be a good, wise girl; 
go often to church." Not a very original or stirring 
message to come from a supernatural brightness on a 
summer's day, but she held it the voice of an angel 
and felt herself in touch with the Most High. Other 
manifestations appeared in later days until at last 
came a winged warrior, wearing a crown, who told 
her the story of her country's woes and said, "Joan, 
it is you who shall give the King of France back his 
kingdom." She knew this knightly visitor for St. 
Michael, as she says, "after he had instructed her 
and shown her many things." Moreover, a stained 
glass window in the church showed the saint in all his 
trappings and the vision took that form. 

With silence the heavenly visitor heard her plead 



JOAN OF ARC 441 



that she was but a simple, ignorant village maiden 
unfit to undertake so great a task. Commending her 
to the Captain of Vaucouleurs for earthly aid, and to 
the spiritual guidance of St. Margaret and St. Cath- 
erine, the vision vanished. 

That is the simple story of the beginning of the 
most marvelous and almost the most pathetic career 
that history has recorded for us. It is the story as 
told and lived by its central figure, the girl Joan of 
Arc, later called the Maid of Orleans, and in time 
known to all Frenchmen as the Maid (la Pucelle) as 
though in all the land she were the only one. For 
nearly four years the visions were constantly with 
her. When at last she mustered courage to tell her 
parents she was roundly ridiculed, and, as she per- 
sisted, they called the parish priest to drive out the 
devils that possessed her, just as in our day we would 
have s umm oned a doctor to test her sanity. In time 
she prevailed on her uncle to tell her story to the 
Captain of Vaucouleurs while she awaited near by the 
summons she was sure would come. But the cap- 
tain's response was a burst of coarse laughter and the 
advice, "box her ears and send her home." 

Her faith was unabated. It was of the sort that 
will move mountains. Before long she silenced the 
ridicule of the valiant captain and had found an 
escort to take her to the king. Her story had become 
widely known and the inhabitants of Vaucouleurs 
bought for her a boy's traveling suit and a horse, 
while Baudri court gave her a sword. Thus caparisoned, 
with a knight on either hand and a small guard of 
soldiers who alternately thought her a saint and a 



442 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

devil, she set forth for Chinon to find the dauphin 
whom she was determined to make king. 

That prince awaited her coming with mingled emo- 
tions. His counselors differed widely. Some thought 
the girl either mad or indeed an instrument of Beelze- 
bub. But the case of France was desperate and even 
so frail a weapon as this peasant maid was not to be 
lightly rejected. In the end the dauphin consented 
to receive her, but before her arrival removed all 
insignia of his rank and took station among the gentle- 
men of his court. "If she be of God," thought he, 
"she will come direct to the only one having royal 
blood." And the maid in her travel-stained boy's 
dress walked straight through the richly garbed throng 
and falling on one knee before him said/ "Gentle 
Prince, God give you new life." 

"But there is the king over yonder," said Charles, 
thinking to put her still further to the test. "By 
my God, gracious prince," responded Joan, "you are 
the king and none other." And therewith she told 
him that she had come to open the way whereby he 
might be crowned and consecrated at Rheims. 

Still harried by doubt, the king sent her to Poitiers 
that she might be questioned by the learned clergy of 
the University. One of these asked for a proof, a 
sign that she could win mighty victories. "By my 
God," again she swore, "it is not to Poitiers I have 
been sent to give signs; take me to Orleans with as 
few soldiers as you please. The sign I am to give 
is the raising of the siege." 

In the end her faith and persistence triumphed. 
She was given armor, a standard, a body guard and 



JOAN OF ARC 443 



put in command of a portion of the army. The armor 
was of silvery white in token of her purity, but she 
wore no helmet and her girlish head crowned with fair 
hair was a more glorious oriflamme than any white 
plume of Navarre. In a vision she was told that a 
sword lay in a tomb near the high altar of St. Cath- 
erine's church. That saint was her patron — the sword 
must be hers. So the tomb was opened and the sword 
found. Duly cleaned and in a scabbard of crimson 
velvet broidered with the lilies of France, it was hung 
by her side. Her standard was of white, sprinkled 
with the fleur de lys and bearing a golden figure of the 
Christ with adoring angels on either hand. * 

Strictly she held to her belief that hers was a holy 
war and should be waged in Godly wise. Stout old 
Oliver Cromwell long afterward discovered that God- 
fearing men made the best soldiers, but the Maid of 
Orleans anticipated him. Her soldiers believedfin her 
and while she led no curse nor blasphemy rose from 
the ranks. Cards, dice and the implements of the 
sorcery practised in that superstitious age disappeared 
from the camps. Priests and exhorters followed the 
army. Never did the churches so resound with the 
clash of arms; never were the confessionals so^ crowded 
with suppliants for forgiveness. 

The first point in Joan's campaign was Orleans. 
In it the Bastard of Orleans, called Dunois, lay sore 
besieged by the English and nearly out of food. Joan 
accomplished the revictualing and re-enforcement of 
the city, and challenged the English to battle. They 
for a time held back. But one night as the maid lay 
sleeping she suddenly awoke. "Arm me! Arm me!" 



444 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

she cried to her astonished squire, "I am commanded 
to attack the enemy. Great God, the blood of France 
is flowing! Why did you not call me sooner?" Her 
retinue amazed, for no alarm had reached them, fitted 
her for the field, and faring forth, she found the armies 
engaged. Her presence inspired the French and they 
beat back the English. And she fought Hers was no 
empty parade of leadership. In one sortie she received 
an arrow full in the shoulder, the barbed shaft stand- 
ing out behind a hand's breadth. At the moment 
she was placing a ladder against the rampart, but the 
shock of the wound bore her to the ground, seeing 
which, the English rushed out to capture her. A valiant 
French knight bestrode her body, battle axe in hand, 
beating back the foe and calling to his fellows to 
return. 

In the end Joan was rescued and taken to the rear, 
where her wound was dressed. She wept at the sight 
of blood, but shed fewer tears than she was wont to 
let fall by the litters of her wounded soldiers. The 
crimson flow was scarcely stanched when she caught 
up her silken banner with the golden lilies and made 
again into the hurtling storm of arrows and of javelins. 
Up and over the wall the assailants went "as if it had 
been a stair," wrote one witness, and the day was 
won. In eight days the English destroyed their works 
and retreated and the long siege was ended. 

This was Joan's first triumph and she had trouble 
enough in getting opportunity for another. The king 
was idle, pleasure-loving, indifferent to the progress 
of the war so long as the gayety of his court, carefully 
established far from the battlefields, was unabridged. 



JOAN OF ARC 445 



Joan pleaded for action and cried with prophetic truth, 
"I shall only last a year; take the good of me as long 
as it is possible." Bedford, whom the English had 
named regent of France, wrote home that his disasters 
were " caused in great part by the fatal faith and vain 
fear that the French had of a servant of the Enemy 
of Man, called the Maid, who used many false enchant- 
ments and witchcraft, by which not only is the number 
of our soldiers diminished, but their courage mar- 
velously beaten down and the boldness of our enemies 
increased." 

At last the king set out for Rheims. On the journey 
a band of the Domremy villagers came to see their 
petite Jeanne pass, and marveled much at her shining 
armor and prancing charger. 

"Hast thou no fear of arrow or bullet?" asked one. 

"I fear naught save treason," replied Jeanne with 
fatal foresight. 

In the great gray church of Notre Dame at Rheims 
Charles was crowned with due pomp and ceremony. 
To him the great and haughty bowed low, but about 
Joan the soldiers clustered, kissing her standard, and 
women and little children flocked about reverently 
touching the hem of her garment. At the end she 
knelt before Charles. "0 gentle King!" said she, 
"now the will of God is accomplished. He com- 
manded me to lead you to Rheims to receive your 
crown. Behold ; you are King, and France will become 
subject to your sway." 

With tears she now begged to be sent home, but 
the king thought her presence with the army too useful 
and he refused. Loyally she took up her task again, 



446 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

but no longer with that implicit faith that had worked 
such marvels. Omens of ill befell her. In endeavor- 
ing to save a peasant girl from the violence of some 
soldiers she broke the sword of St. Catherine. The 
king again became indolent, lolling in the pleasures 
of dissipation. In an attack on one of the gates of 
Paris she was wounded and her troops suffered a bloody 
defeat. Her enemies even set up a rival "inspired 
maid" to supplant her. In the face of so much evil 
she laid her armor and battle axe on the tomb of St. 
Denis in the cathedral and sought to retire, but was 
coaxed back by the king and generals. In a few 
weeks, abandoned by her men in an assault at Com- 
peigne, she was taken by the enemy- 
Great was the exultation of the English. From 
their joy one might have thought they had conquered 
all France. Abysmal was the woe of the French people 
— though the court hardly seemed to share it. In 
great cities public prayers and processions were organ- 
ized for her deliverance. At Tours the people marched 
barefoot through the streets, with streaming eyes, 
chanting the Miserere. Gloom enveloped the land 
and the poor bitterly accused the lords and generals 
with having betrayed the holy Virgin who had been 
sent by God. The court of Charles VII was singularly 
indifferent to the Maid's fate. She was entitled to 
ransom, but none was offered, and she passed from 
hand to hand among her captors until at last the 
Inquisition of Paris demanded her that she be tried 
for witchcraft. 

Once in the hands of the Inquisition, Joan's life 
was one continued torture. She was beset by spies, 



JOAN OF ARC 447 



surrounded by cross-examiners, guarded by soldiers 
who did not confine their brutality to obscene words, 
but actually resorted to violence to do her evil. At 
Beaurevoir, having a measure of freedom, she threw 
herself from the top of a tower, but escaped death. 
Thereafter she was more closely guarded and three 
soldiers slept in her chamber. She wore male clothes 
for protection, and this was construed by her judges 
as a sin. Then she donned women's raiment and it 
was promptly stolen. Finally she was placed like a 
wild beast in an iron cage, and at times was chained 
upright to its bars by ankles, wrists and neck. 

Pale from long imprisonment, clad in her worn boy's 
suit, she faced the inquisitors. The story of that girl- 
ish soul upon the monastic rack cannot be told here. 
When they had failed to wrest from her any con- 
fession of witchcraft, any repudiation of her story of 
the voices in the garden, they led her out into the 
cemetery and showed her the towering scaffold and 
the stake at which she had to die unless she abjured 
her faith. Weakness came upon her as it might upon 
any girl confronted with so gruesome a sight and, as 
the recording clerk noted it, "at the end of the sen- 
tence, Jeanne, fearing the fire, said she would obey 
the church." And later in her cell the persecuting 
bishop extorted from her the admission that her 
beloved and revered voices had lied to her. But 
later in open court she most pitifully but bravely 
repudiated these recantations. 

To the stake they sent her on a bright May day in 
1431. In a cemetery back of the church de St. Ouen, 
at Rouen, a spot now called the Place de La Pucelle, 



448 WOMEN OF HISTORY 

they had reared the scaffold and piled the fagots about 
the sinister stake. Thither was the Maid brought in 
a cart, the populace silent or tearful, held in check 
by the English soldiery. Though she had been tried 
and condemned by the French clergy, the English, 
under the implacable Lord Warwick, executed the 
sentence with open glee. No crucifix was given her 
until in response to her appeals an English soldier 
bound two twigs together in the form of a cross and 
handed it to her. But as the fire rose the monk Isam- 
bert, one sympathetic soul among her executioners, 
ran to the neighboring church and bringing the proces- 
sional cross held it high above smoke and flames that 
her eyes might rest upon it. 

About the girlish figure, clad in spotless white, the 
flames rose and crackled. Out of the murk and the 
noise came a cry, "My voices were of God. They 
did not deceive me!" And after this last brave reitera- 
tion of her faith her soul passed away while her lips 
formed the word, "Jesus, Jesus." 

An English cardinal caused her ashes to be scattered 
upon the Seine that France might be purged of this 
heretic. But to-day the girl who there suffered is 
esteemed a saint and the saviour of France, while the 
cardinal's own land unites with the world in revering 
her memory 

The End.